Medicine is developing towards an era where treatments can be tailored to the individual.  This can be done by genetic testing to determine the likelihood that a treatment will work.  However, there is a simpler way - single patient or N-of-1 trials.

Single Patient trials (also called N-of-1 trials) are multiple-cycle, double blind, placebo-controlled crossover trials using standardised measures of effect. The randomisation order is independently generated for each patient. At the end of the trial the order is revealed, and the patient response is compared against the presence or absence of the test treatment.

N-of-1 trials are usually used for testing the effectiveness of medicines in individual patients.

The advantage of N-of-1 trials is that the individual patient and their clinician receive direct evidence about the effect of the treatment versus the comparator on their own symptoms, therefore treatment can be individually tailored.

It is also possible to combine the results of many N-of-1 trials to determine the effect of a therapy for a population, thus allowing rapid accumulation of strong evidence on treatment effects.

Our group have successfully completed over 600 of these trials in various areas eg palliative care and paediatric medicine. Our current work includes an international collaboration with researchers at the University of Alberta, in Canada.


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N-of-1 trials are usually used for testing the effectiveness of medicines in individual patients.

Core research team

Sleep health

Several projects with the aim to improve sleep in both adults and children are currently underway:

MyNap project contact: mynap@uq.edu.au 

Parkinsons project contact: insompd@uq.edu.au

  • Multiple Baseline Single Case Experimental Design Testing the Effects of Valerian in Chronic Insomnia

Valerian project contact: Jane Nikles uqjnikle@uq.edu.au

Making it Personal: Managing Chronic Symptoms using Insights from N-of-1 Studies

Project contact: Suzanne McDonald suzanne.mcdonald@uq.edu.au

Other conditions

  • A pilot series of n-of-1 randomised controlled trials to compare Pregabalin and Gabapentin for persistent neuropathic pain
  • Single Patient Multiple Cross-Over Trials To Determine The Efficacy Of Pilocarpine 5mg Orally Dissolving Tablets In Relieving Dry Mouth In Patients Experiencing Xerostomia

Other projects

Project contact: Suzanne McDonald suzanne.mcdonald@uq.edu.au

Completed projects

  • Using n-of-1 trials to determine the effectiveness of paracetamol in advanced cancer patients on opioids. (Funded by the NHMRC)
  • Using single patient trials to determine the effectiveness of psycho-stimulants in end stage fatigue in cancer patients. (Funded by the NHMRC)
  • N-of-1 trials of stimulants compared to placebo for traumatic brain injury in children. (Funded by Motor Accident Insurance Commission)
  • A series of N-of-1 trials to assess therapeutic interchangeability of two Enalapril formulations in the treatment of hypertension, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Physical Activity Promotion in Community-Dwelling Adults with Whiplash Associated Disorders: a pilot series of single case experimental designs (funded by HABS)

Pediatric sleep research

Does melatonin assist children with ADHD and insomnia to sleep better?

Parkinson’s Disease sleep research

Does melatonin assist patients with Parkinson’s Disease and insomnia to sleep better?

N-of-1 trial research

A series of systematic reviews of different applications of N-of-1 trials focusing on adverse events, dose comparisons and other applications of N-of-1 trials

N-of-1 trials in complementary and alternative medicine

The n-of-1 team collaborates with top international researchers in the field and with clinicians who wish to use n-of-1 trials in their practice including sleep physicians, sleep psychologists, various clinicians and other researchers with an interest in sleep health in Australia and internationally.

The n-of-1 research team regularly engage with support and consumer groups, giving talks and updates on research.

Donate now to support us

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to clinical trials for better sleep research, please contact med.advancement@uq.edu.au. Thank you for your support.