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Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), typically, randomize participants to one of two intervention groups. It has been shown, however, that about 25% of RCTs published in the scientific literature randomize participants to three or more treatment groups. These studies are called 'multi-arm' trials: there may be, for instance, two or more experimental intervention groups with a common control group, or two control intervention groups such as a placebo group and a standard treatment group. A special case of multi-arm studies are factorial trials, which address two or more intervention comparisons carried out simultaneously, using four or more intervention groups.

Original publication




Journal article


Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci

Publication Date





213 - 215