Pharmaceutical Statistics

Sample size of 12 per group rule of thumb for a pilot study

Journal Article


When designing a clinical trial an appropriate justification for the sample size should be provided in the protocol. However, there are a number of settings when undertaking a pilot trial when there is no prior information to base a sample size on. For such pilot studies the recommendation is a sample size of 12 per group. The justifications for this sample size are based on rationale about feasibility; precision about the mean and variance; and regulatory considerations. The context of the justifications are that future studies will use the information from the pilot in their design. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Published features on are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.