Competing risks analyses: objectives and approaches

Eur Heart J. 2014 Nov 7;35(42):2936-41. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehu131. Epub 2014 Apr 7.


Studies in cardiology often record the time to multiple disease events such as death, myocardial infarction, or hospitalization. Competing risks methods allow for the analysis of the time to the first observed event and the type of the first event. They are also relevant if the time to a specific event is of primary interest but competing events may preclude its occurrence or greatly alter the chances to observe it. We give a non-technical overview of competing risks concepts for descriptive and regression analyses. For descriptive statistics, the cumulative incidence function is the most important tool. For regression modelling, we introduce regression models for the cumulative incidence function and the cause-specific hazard function, respectively. We stress the importance of choosing statistical methods that are appropriate if competing risks are present. We also clarify the role of competing risks for the analysis of composite endpoints.

Keywords: Cause-specific hazard function; Combined endpoints; Cumulative incidence function; Multiple failure causes; Survival analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Survival Rate