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Confounding and effect modification

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Presentation on theme: "Confounding and effect modification"— Presentation transcript:

1 Confounding and effect modification
Preben Aavitsland

2 Can we believe the result?
Rice Salmonellosis 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.” Exposure Disease Confounder

5 Confounding - 2 Key term in epidemiology
Most important explanation for associations Always look for confounding factors Surgeon Post 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 Umbrella Less tub. 2 1 Class 3

7 Downs’ syndrome by birth order

8 Find confounders “Second, third and fourth child are more often affected by Downs’ syndrome.” Many children Downs’ 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 shoes Headache 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 hosp Few 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. Umbrella Less tub. Lower class Class

15 Restriction We study only mothers of a certain age Many children
Downs’ 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 children Downs’ 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 (ORmh) 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 Choose one exposure which will be of interest 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) Chicken Salmonellosis Rice

24 No confounding Because:
OR for chicken alone = ORmh 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) Rice Salmonellosis Chicken

26 Confounding Because: OR for rice alone = ORmh 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 (ORmh) 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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