Application of stochastic processes to participant recruitment in clinical trials

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28 Scopus citations


The allocation of sufficient time for participant recruitment is one of the fundamental aspects in planning a clinical trial. This paper illustrates how a Poisson process can be used to determine an optimal period of time for participant recruitment by simulating Poisson arrival into a clinical trial. The simulation study provides the means to generate of an empirical probability density function for the recruitment time based on time-dependent changes in the accrual rate. From this empirical distribution, a clinical trial recruitment period can be planned to provide a high level of confidence (e.g., 90% probability) of enrolling the sample size within the planned amount of time given the simulation assumptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-436
Number of pages8
JournalControlled Clinical Trials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Accrual time
  • Clinical trial
  • Poisson process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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