Detecting Moderator Effects Using Subgroup Analyses

Detecting Moderator Effects Using Subgroup Analyses In the analysis of prevention and intervention studies, it is often important to investigate whether treatment effects vary among subgroups of patients defined by individual characteristics. These “subgroup analyses” can provide information about how best to use a new prevention or intervention program. However, subgroup analyses can be misleading if they test data-driven hypotheses, employ inappropriate statistical methods, or fail to account for multiple testing. These problems have led to a general suspicion of findings from subgroup analyses. This article discusses sound methods for conducting subgroup analyses to detect moderators. Multiple authors have argued that, to assess whether a treatment effect varies across subgroups defined by patient characteristics, analyses should be based on tests for interaction rather than treatment comparisons within the subgroups. We discuss the concept of heterogeneity and its dependence on the metric used to describe treatment effects. We discuss issues of multiple comparisons related to subgroup analyses and the importance of considering multiplicity in the interpretation of results. We also discuss the types of questions that would lead to subgroup analyses and how different scientific goals may affect the study at the design stage. Finally, we discuss subgroup analyses based on post-baseline factors and the complexity associated with this type of subgroup analysis. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Prevention Science Springer Journals

Detecting Moderator Effects Using Subgroup Analyses

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 by Society for Prevention Research
Subject
Medicine & Public Health; Public Health; Health Psychology; Child and School Psychology
ISSN
1389-4986
eISSN
1573-6695
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11121-011-0221-x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In the analysis of prevention and intervention studies, it is often important to investigate whether treatment effects vary among subgroups of patients defined by individual characteristics. These “subgroup analyses” can provide information about how best to use a new prevention or intervention program. However, subgroup analyses can be misleading if they test data-driven hypotheses, employ inappropriate statistical methods, or fail to account for multiple testing. These problems have led to a general suspicion of findings from subgroup analyses. This article discusses sound methods for conducting subgroup analyses to detect moderators. Multiple authors have argued that, to assess whether a treatment effect varies across subgroups defined by patient characteristics, analyses should be based on tests for interaction rather than treatment comparisons within the subgroups. We discuss the concept of heterogeneity and its dependence on the metric used to describe treatment effects. We discuss issues of multiple comparisons related to subgroup analyses and the importance of considering multiplicity in the interpretation of results. We also discuss the types of questions that would lead to subgroup analyses and how different scientific goals may affect the study at the design stage. Finally, we discuss subgroup analyses based on post-baseline factors and the complexity associated with this type of subgroup analysis.

Journal

Prevention ScienceSpringer Journals

Published: May 12, 2011

References

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