The importance of assessing the fit of logistic regression models: a case study

Am J Public Health. 1991 Dec;81(12):1630-5. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.12.1630.


Background: The logistic regression model is being used with increasing frequency in all areas of public health research. In the calendar year 1989, over 30% of the articles published in the American Journal of Public Health employed some form of logistic regression modeling. In spite of this increase, there has been no commensurate increase in the use of commonly available methods for assessing model adequacy.

Methods: We review the current status of the use of logistic regression modeling in the American Journal of Public Health. We present a brief overview of currently available and easily used methods for assessing the adequacy of a fitted logistic regression model.

Results: An example is used to demonstrate the methods as well as a few of the adverse consequences of failing to assess the fit of the model. One important adverse consequence illustrated in the example is the inclusion of variables in the model as a result of the influence of one subject.

Conclusions: Failure to address model adequacy may lead to misleading or incorrect inferences. Recommendations are made for the use of methods for assessing model adequacy and for future editorial policy in regard to the review of articles using logistic regression.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models*
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health*
  • Publishing / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results