Power calculation for stepped-wedge cluster randomized trials (SW-CRTs) presents unique challenges, beyond those of standard cluster randomized trials (CRTs), due to the need to consider temporal within cluster correlations and background period effects. To date, power calculation methods specific to SW-CRTs have primarily been developed under a linear model. When the outcome is binary, the use of a linear model corresponds to assessing a prevalence difference; yet trial analysis often employs a non-linear link function. We assess power for cross-sectional SW-CRTs under a logistic model fitted by generalized estimating equations. Firstly, under an exchangeable correlation structure, we show the power based on a logistic model is lower than that from assuming a linear model in the absence of period effects. We then evaluate the impact of background prevalence changes over time on power. To allow the correlation among outcomes in the same cluster to change over time and with treatment status, we generalize the methods to more complex correlation structures. Our simulation studies demonstrate that the proposed power calculation methods perform well with the model-based variance under the true correlation structure and reveal that a working independence structure can result in substantial efficiency loss, while a working exchangeable structure performs well even when the underlying correlation structure deviates from exchangeable. An extension to our methods accounts for variable cluster sizes and reveals unequal cluster sizes have a modest impact on power. We illustrate the approaches by application to a quality of care improvement trial for acute coronary syndrome.
Harrison, Linda J. and Wang, Rui, "Power calculation for cross-sectional stepped-wedge cluster randomized trials with binary outcomes" (January 2020). Harvard University Biostatistics Working Paper Series. Working Paper 227.