Statistical pitfalls of personalized medicine

Author: Stephen Senn

This article describes some key assumptions that have been made in personalised medicine. For example: There is a tendency to believe that treatment ‘responders’ and ‘non-responders’ differ on a special and predictable characteristic, when in reality there could be arbitrary reasons for differential treatment response; It is rarely acknowledged that ‘responders’ may have improved due to something other than the treatment they received; Response is often defined on the basis of one single outcome measurement, which will not pick up potential variability in the outcome. The author highlights how n-of-1 trials can be used to overcome many of these pitfalls in personalised medicine.

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