Random guess and wishful thinking are the best blinding scenarios

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12 Scopus citations


Blinding is a methodologic safeguard of treatment evaluation, yet severely understudied empirically. Mathieu et al.'s theoretical analysis (2014) provided an important message that blinding cannot eliminate potential for bias associated with belief about allocation in randomized controlled trial; just like the intent-to-treat principle does not guarantee unbiased estimation under noncompliance, the blinded randomized trial as a golden standard may produce bias. They showed possible biases but did not assess how large the bias could be in different scenarios. In this paper, we examined their findings, and numerically assessed and compared the bias in treatment effect parameters by simulation under frequently encountered blinding scenarios, aiming to identify the most ideal blinding scenarios in practice. We conclude that Random Guess and Wishful Thinking (e.g., participants tend to believe they received treatment) are the most ideal blinding scenarios, incurring minimal bias. We also find some evidence that imperfect or partial blinding can be better than no blinding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-121
Number of pages5
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials Communications
StatePublished - Aug 15 2016


  • Bias
  • Blinding
  • Blinding index
  • Clinical trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology


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