Shared uncertainty in measurement error problems, with application to Nevada Test Site fallout data

Biometrics. 2007 Dec;63(4):1226-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-0420.2007.00810.x.


In radiation epidemiology, it is often necessary to use mathematical models in the absence of direct measurements of individual doses. When complex models are used as surrogates for direct measurements to estimate individual doses that occurred almost 50 years ago, dose estimates will be associated with considerable error, this error being a mixture of (a) classical measurement error due to individual data such as diet histories and (b) Berkson measurement error associated with various aspects of the dosimetry system. In the Nevada Test Site(NTS) Thyroid Disease Study, the Berkson measurement errors are correlated within strata. This article concerns the development of statistical methods for inference about risk of radiation dose on thyroid disease, methods that account for the complex error structure inherence in the problem. Bayesian methods using Markov chain Monte Carlo and Monte-Carlo expectation-maximization methods are described, with both sharing a key Metropolis-Hastings step. Regression calibration is also considered, but we show that regression calibration does not use the correlation structure of the Berkson errors. Our methods are applied to the NTS Study, where we find a strong dose-response relationship between dose and thyroiditis. We conclude that full consideration of mixtures of Berkson and classical uncertainties in reconstructed individual doses are important for quantifying the dose response and its credibility/confidence interval. Using regression calibration and expectation values for individual doses can lead to a substantial underestimation of the excess relative risk per gray and its 95% confidence intervals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts*
  • Biometry / methods*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Nevada / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Radiation Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Radioactive Fallout / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroid Diseases / epidemiology*


  • Radioactive Fallout