Group sequential methods have been widely described and implemented in a clinical trial setting where parametric and semiparametric models are deemed suitable. In these situations, the evaluation of the operating characteristics of a group sequential stopping rule remains relatively straightforward. However, in the presence of nonproportional hazards survival data nonparametric methods are often used, and the evaluation of stopping rules is no longer a trivial task. Specifically, nonparametric test statistics do not necessarily correspond to a parameter of clinical interest, thus making it difficult to characterize alternatives at which operating characteristics are to be computed. We describe an approach for constructing alternatives under nonproportional hazards using pre-existing pilot data, allowing one to evaluate various operating characteristics of candidate group sequential stopping rules. The method is illustrated via a case study in which testing is based upon a weighted logrank statistic.


Clinical Trials