Complementary nonparametric analysis of covariance for logistic regression in a randomized clinical trial setting

J Biopharm Stat. 1999 Mar;9(1):45-66. doi: 10.1081/BIP-100100999.


In the randomized clinical trial setting, controlling for covariates is expected to produce variance reduction for the treatment parameter estimate and to adjust for random imbalances of covariates between the treatment groups. However, for the logistic regression model, variance reduction is not obviously obtained. This can lead to concerns about the assumptions of the logistic model. We introduce a complementary nonparametric method for covariate adjustment. It provides results that are usually compatible with expectations for analysis of covariance. The only assumptions required are based on randomization and sampling arguments. The resulting treatment parameter is a (unconditional) population average log-odds ratio that has been adjusted for random imbalance of covariates. Data from a randomized clinical trial are used to compare results from the traditional maximum likelihood logistic method with those from the nonparametric logistic method. We examine treatment parameter estimates, corresponding standard errors, and significance levels in models with and without covariate adjustment. In addition, we discuss differences between unconditional population average treatment parameters and conditional subpopulation average treatment parameters. Additional features of the nonparametric method, including stratified (multicenter) and multivariate (multivisit) analyses, are illustrated. Extensions of this methodology to the proportional odds model are also made.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Logistic Models*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric*