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The International Journal of Biostatistics

Ed. by Chambaz, Antoine / Hubbard, Alan E. / van der Laan, Mark J.

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.840
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.000

CiteScore 2017: 0.97

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 1.150
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 1.022

Mathematical Citation Quotient (MCQ) 2016: 0.09

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Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies with Unmeasured Confounders

Lawrence C. McCandless
Published Online: 2012-01-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1557-4679.1350

Meta-analysis of observational studies is an exciting new area of innovation in statistical science. Unlike randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard for proving causation, observational studies are prone to biases including confounding. In this article, we describe a novel Bayesian procedure to control for a confounder that is missing across the sequence of studies in a meta-analysis. We motivate the discussion with the example of a meta-analysis of cohort, case-control and cross-sectional studies examining the relationship between oral contraceptives and endometriosis. An important unmeasured confounder is dysmennoreah, which is an indication for oral contraceptive use. To adjust for unmeasured confounding, we combine random effects models with probabilistic sensitivity analysis techniques. Information about the unmeasured confounder is incorporated into the analysis via prior distributions, and we use MCMC to sample from posterior.

Keywords: causal inference; bias; sensitivity analysis; Bayesian statistics

About the article

Published Online: 2012-01-06

Citation Information: The International Journal of Biostatistics, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 1–31, ISSN (Online) 1557-4679, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1557-4679.1350.

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