What are n-of-1 trials, and what are they good for?

Definition of an n-of-1 trial An n-of-1 trial is a experiment conducted for a single person in which treatment blocks are randomly rotated, symptoms are systematically logged, and results are statistically analyzed. Since many treatments work differently for different individuals, n-of-1 trials help determine a treatment’s efficacy for a specific individual. N-of-1 trials are typically […]

Why heterogeneous treatment effects matter… but are often ignored

Roughly a century ago, modern medicine got off to a roaring start with the steady introduction of population-wide solutions for illnesses. Louis Pasteur’s discovery in 1870 of the bacterial origin of many illnesses laid a foundation; handwashing cut deaths from operations and childbirth; antibiotics cured many infections; vaccines wiped out polio, smallpox and chicken pox. […]

Eleven cognitive biases and statistical errors that can interfere with identifying an optimal treatment

When there’s not an obvious best treatment for a chronic condition, humans often use trial and error, moving through a list of treatments until one hits. Research into human decision-making suggests that this unstructured approach introduces numerous biases.

What’s a good duration for a treatment block in a personal experiment?

The literature on treatment blocks says broadly that blocks may be shorter for faster acting treatments (a one day treatment might be appropriate for pain and aspirin) and longer for treatments that have a slow, cumulative effect. But digging into the literature for both RTCs and n-of-1 experiments, you find a wide variety of treatment […]

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