Nevin Manimala Statistics

Nonparametric estimation of the random effects distribution for the risk or rate ratio in rare events meta-analysis with the arm-based and contrast-based approaches

Stat Med. 2023 Dec 19. doi: 10.1002/sim.9981. Online ahead of print.


Rare events are events which occur with low frequencies. These often arise in clinical trials or cohort studies where the data are arranged in binary contingency tables. In this article, we investigate the estimation of effect heterogeneity for the risk-ratio parameter in meta-analysis of rare events studies through two likelihood-based nonparametric mixture approaches: an arm-based and a contrast-based model. Maximum likelihood estimation is achieved using the EM algorithm. Special attention is given to the choice of initial values. Inspired by the classification likelihood, a strategy is implemented which repeatably uses random allocation of the studies to the mixture components as choice of initial values. The likelihoods under the contrast-based and arm-based approaches are compared and differences are highlighted. We use simulations to assess the performance of these two methods. Under the design of sampling studies with nested treatment groups, the results show that the nonparametric mixture model based on the contrast-based approach is more appropriate in terms of model selection criteria such as AIC and BIC. Under the arm-based design the results from the arm-based model performs well although in some cases it is also outperformed by the contrast-based model. Comparisons of the estimators are provided in terms of bias and mean squared error. Also included in the comparison is the mixed Poisson regression model as well as the classical DerSimonian-Laird model (using the Mantel-Haenszel estimator for the common effect). Using simulation, estimating effect heterogeneity in the case of the contrast-based method appears to behave better than the compared methods although differences become negligible for large within-study sample sizes. We illustrate the methodologies using several meta-analytic data sets in medicine.

PMID:38111986 | DOI:10.1002/sim.9981

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