23 October 2017 - The value of ad hoc analyses of clinical trials may not be clear. Ad hoc analyses are carried out after developing analysis plans and are considered exploratory in nature.
Such analyses should be conducted on a ‘rational’ biological basis, rather than ‘aimless’ data dredging. Ad hoc analyses are done to generate new hypotheses that guide future research studies. Such retrospective analyses are of great value, especially if the differences for the primary outcome (adequately powered) were not detected. Analyses of positive trials can also identify populations that are treatment-resistant or susceptible to adverse effects.
Ad hoc analyses are highly under-utilised to guide future studies to personalise treatment recommendations, but could have a great potential to personalise treatment decisions.