Study Design Characteristics and Endpoints for Enriched Enrollment Randomized Withdrawal Trials for Chronic Pain Patients: A Systematic Review

David J. Kopsky*, Karolina M. Szadek, Patrick Schober, Alexander F. JE Vrancken, Monique A. H. Steegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Enriched enrollment randomized withdrawal (EERW) pain trials are designed to include only responders with considerable pain relief without unacceptable side effects into the randomized phase. There are no recommendations for primary endpoints in such trials. Our objective was to propose recommendations based on assessment of trial characteristics, endpoints and effect sizes in EERW pain trials. We conducted a systematic review by searching electronic databases up to June 2020 for EERW trials comparing an analgesic with a placebo in adults suffering from chronic pain. A total of 28 trials met our criteria, involving 13662 patients in the open or single-blind phase and 7937 patients in the double-blind phase. As primary endpoint 18 trials used pain intensity measured with the visual analogue scale (VAS) or the 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS); 1 trial used a 4-point NRS. Loss of therapeutic response (LTR) was used in 1 trial and time to LTR was used in 8 trials as primary endpoint. Definitions of time to LTR differed considerably between trials. Only 2 out of 8 trials using time to LTR as primary endpoint reported the percentage of patients experiencing a minimum pain relief of 50%, compared to 14 out of 18 trials using NRS or VAS. Due to the complexity and diversity of time to LTR in EERW pain trials, we propose to use the NRS as primary endpoint with conservative imputation methods, and to use time to LTR as secondary endpoint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-496
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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