Fertility studies in female childhood cancer survivors: selecting appropriate comparison groups

M. H. van den Berg*, E. van Dulmen-den Broeder, A. Overbeek, C. M. Ronckers, W. van Dorp, L. C. Kremer, M. M. van den Heuvel-Eibrink, G. A. Huizinga, J. J. Loonen, A. B. Versluys, D. Bresters, C. B. Lambalk, G. J. L. Kaspers, F. E. van Leeuwen

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Little information is available on the use of appropriate comparison groups for studies investigating late effects of childhood cancer. Two comparison groups in a nationwide study on reproductive function and ovarian reserve in female childhood cancer survivors were recruited (The Dutch Childhood Oncology Group Long-Term Effects After Childhood Cancer Cohort Study). Experiences of this process are reported. Two types of comparison groups were used: sisters of participating survivors and controls from the general population. A total of 352 out of 580 (61%) of the participating survivors who had a sister gave permission to invite them for the study. The participation rate of sisters was much higher than control participants from the general population (74% versus 21%, respectively), whereas considerably more effort was involved in recruiting controls from the general population. Participants in this group were significantly older and more highly educated than sister controls (P <0.001 for both groups). No significant differences were observed between both types of comparison groups in several fertility-related characteristics, suggesting minimal bias owing to selective participation. Researchers setting up a study to investigate late effects among survivors of childhood cancer should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of using various types of comparison groups. (C) 2014 Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)352-361
    Number of pages10
    JournalReproductive Biomedicine Online
    Volume29
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep-2014

    Keywords

    • childhood cancer survivors
    • comparison groups controls
    • female fertility
    • late effects
    • QUALITY-OF-LIFE
    • LONG-TERM SURVIVORS
    • PEDIATRIC CANCER
    • COHORT CHARACTERISTICS
    • EPIDEMIOLOGIC RESEARCH
    • SIBLINGS
    • DESIGN
    • POPULATION
    • DIAGNOSIS
    • OUTCOMES

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