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Confounding and effect modification Preben Aavitsland.

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Presentation on theme: "Confounding and effect modification Preben Aavitsland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Confounding and effect modification Preben Aavitsland

2 Can we believe the result? RiceSalmonellosis OR = 3.9

3 Systematic error Does not decrease with increasing sample size Selection bias Information bias Confounding

4 Confunding - 1 Mixing of the effect of the exposure on disease with the effect of another factor that is associated with the exposure. ExposureDisease Confounder

5 Confounding - 2 Key term in epidemiology Most important explanation for associations Always look for confounding factors SurgeonPost op inf. Op theatre I

6 Criteria for a confounder 1 A confounder must be a cause of the disease (or a marker for a cause) 2 A confounder must be associated with the exposure in the source population 3 A confounder must not be affected by the exposure or the disease UmbrellaLess tub. Class 1 3 2

7 Downs syndrome by birth order

8 Find confounders Second, third and fourth child are more often affected by Downs syndrome. Many childrenDowns Maternal age

9 Downs syndrome by maternal age

10 Downs syndrome by birth order and maternal age groups

11 Find confounders The Norwegian comedian Marve Fleksnes once stated: I am probably allergic to leather because every time I go to bed with my shoes on, I wake up with a headache the next morning. Sleep shoesHeadache Alcohol

12 Find confounders A study has found that small hospitals have lower rates of nosocomial infections than the large university hospitals. The local politicians use this as an argument for the higher quality of local hospitals. Small hospFew infections Well patients

13 Controlling confounding In the design Restriction of the study Matching Before data collection! In the analysis Restriction of the analysis Stratification Multivariable regression After data collection!

14 Restriction Restriction of the study or the analysis to a subgroup that is homogenous for the possible confounder. Always possible, but reduces the size of the study. UmbrellaLess tub. Class Lower class

15 Restriction We study only mothers of a certain age Many childrenDowns 35 year old mothers

16 Matching Selection of controls to be identical to the cases with respect to distribution of one or more potential confounders. Many childrenDowns Maternal age

17 Disadvantages of matching Breaks the rule: Control group should be representative of source population –Therefore: Special matched analysis needed –More complicated analysis Cannot study whether matched factor has a causal effect More difficult to find controls

18 Why match? Random sample from source population may not be possible Quick and easy way to get controls –Matched on social factors: Friend controls, family controls, neighbourhood controls –Matched on time: Density case-control studies Can improve efficiency of study Can control for confounding due to factors that are difficult to measure

19 Should we match? Probably not, but may: If there are many possible confounders that you need to stratify for in analysis

20 Stratified analysis Calculate crude odds ratio with whole data set Divide data set in strata for the potential confounding variable and analyse these separately Calculate adjusted (OR mh ) odds ratio If adjusted OR differs (> 10-20%) from crude OR, then confounding is present and adjusted OR should be reported

21 Procedure for analysis When two (or more) exposures seem to be associated with disease 1.Choose one exposure which will be of interest 2.Stratify by the other variable –Meaning. Making one two by two table for those with and one for those without the other variable (for example, one table for men and one for women) Repeat the procedure, but change the variables

22 Example Salmonella after wedding dinner Disease seems to be associated with both chicken and rice But many had both chicken and rice

23 Confounding Is rice a confounder for the chicken salmonellosis association? Stratify: Make one 2x2 table for rice-eaters and one for non-rice-eaters (e.g. in Episheet) ChickenSalmonellosis Rice

24 No confounding Because: OR for chicken alone = OR mh for chicken controlled for rice

25 Confounding Is chicken a confounder for the rice salmonellosis association? Stratify: Make one 2x2 table for chicken-eaters and one for non-chicken-eaters (e.g. in Episheet) RiceSalmonellosis Chicken

26 Confounding Because: OR for rice alone = OR mh for rice controlled for chicken Not 3,9

27 Conclusion Chicken is associated with salmonellosis Rice is not associated with salmonellosis –confounding by chicken because many chicken-eaters also had rice –rice only appeared to be associated with salmonellosis Stratification was needed to find confounding Compare crude OR to adjusted OR (OR mh ) If > 10-20% difference confounding!

28 Multivariable regression Analyse the data in a statistical model that includes both the presumed cause and possible confounders Measure the odds ratio OR for each of the exposures, independent from the others Logistic regression is the most common model in epidemiology But explore the data first with stratification!

29 Controlling confounding In the design Restriction of the study Matching In the analysis Restriction of the analysis Stratification Multivariable methods

30 Effect modification Definition: The association between exposure and disease differ in strata of the population –Example: Tetracycline discolours teeth in children, but not in adults –Example: Measles vaccine protects in children > 15 months, but not in children < 15 months Rare occurence

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