Sample size determination for GEE analyses of stepped wedge cluster randomized trials.
In stepped wedge cluster randomized trials, intact clusters of individuals switch from control to intervention from a randomly assigned period onwards. Such trials are becoming increasingly popular in health services research. When a closed cohort is recruited from each cluster for longitudinal follow-up, proper sample size calculation should account for three distinct types of intraclass correlations: the within-period, the inter-period, and the within-individual correlations. Setting the latter two correlation parameters to be equal accommodates cross-sectional designs. We propose sample size procedures for continuous and binary responses within the framework of generalized estimating equations that employ a block exchangeable within-cluster correlation structure defined from the distinct correlation types. For continuous responses, we show that the intraclass correlations affect power only through two eigenvalues of the correlation matrix. We demonstrate that analytical power agrees well with simulated power for as few as eight clusters, when data are analyzed using bias-corrected estimating equations for the correlation parameters concurrently with a bias-corrected sandwich variance estimator.
Li, F; Turner, EL; Preisser, JS
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