Bayesian analysis on meta-analysis of case-control studies accounting for within-study correlation

Stat Methods Med Res. 2015 Dec;24(6):836-55. doi: 10.1177/0962280211430889. Epub 2011 Dec 4.


In retrospective studies, odds ratio is often used as the measure of association. Under independent beta prior assumption, the exact posterior distribution of odds ratio given a single 2 × 2 table has been derived in the literature. However, independence between risks within the same study may be an oversimplified assumption because cases and controls in the same study are likely to share some common factors and thus to be correlated. Furthermore, in a meta-analysis of case-control studies, investigators usually have multiple 2 × 2 tables. In this article, we first extend the published results on a single 2 × 2 table to allow within study prior correlation while retaining the advantage of closed-form posterior formula, and then extend the results to multiple 2 × 2 tables and regression setting. The hyperparameters, including within study correlation, are estimated via an empirical Bayes approach. The overall odds ratio and the exact posterior distribution of the study-specific odds ratio are inferred based on the estimated hyperparameters. We conduct simulation studies to verify our exact posterior distribution formulas and investigate the finite sample properties of the inference for the overall odds ratio. The results are illustrated through a twin study for genetic heritability and a meta-analysis for the association between the N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2) acetylation status and colorectal cancer.

Keywords: Sarmanov family; bivariate beta-binomial model; exact method; hypergeometric function; meta-analysis; odds ratio.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase / genetics
  • Bayes Theorem*
  • Case-Control Studies*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Regression Analysis
  • Space Simulation
  • Statistics as Topic / methods*
  • Twin Studies as Topic / methods


  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase
  • NAT2 protein, human