Use of disease risk scores in pharmacoepidemiologic studies

Arbogast, Patrick G.; Ray, Wayne A.
February 2009
Statistical Methods in Medical Research;Feb2009, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p67
Academic Journal
Automated databases are increasingly used in pharmacoepidemiologic studies. These databases include records of prescribed medications and encounters with medical care providers from which one can construct very detailed surrogate measures for both drug exposure and covariates that are potential confounders. Often it is possible to track day-by-day changes in these variables. However, while this information is often critical for study success, its volume can pose challenges for statistical analysis. One common approach is the use of propensity scores. An alternative approach is to construct a disease risk score. This is analogous to the propensity score in that it calculates a summary measure from the covariates. However, the disease risk score estimates the probability or rate of disease occurrence conditional on being unexposed. The association between exposure and disease is then estimated adjusting for the disease risk score in place of the individual covariates. This review describes the use of disease risk scores in pharmacoepidemiologic studies, and includes a brief discussion of their history, a more detailed description of their construction and use, a summary of simulation studies comparing their performance vis-á-vis traditional models, a comparison of their utility with that of propensity scores, and some further topics for future research.


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