Survival-related Selection Bias in Studies of Racial Health Disparities: The Importance of the Target Population and Study Design

Epidemiology. 2018 Jul;29(4):521-524. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000849.


The impact of survival-related selection bias has not always been discussed in relevant studies of racial health disparities. Moreover, the analytic approaches most frequently employed in the epidemiologic literature to minimize selection bias are difficult to implement appropriately in racial disparities research. This difficulty stems from the fact that frequently employed analytic techniques require that common causes of survival and the outcome are accurately measured. Unfortunately, such common causes are often unmeasured or poorly measured in racial health disparities studies. In the absence of accurate measures of the aforementioned common causes, redefining the target population or changing the study design represents a useful approach for reducing the extent of survival-related selection bias. To help researchers recognize and minimize survival-related selection bias in racial health disparities studies, we illustrate the aforementioned selection bias and how redefining the target population or changing the study design can be useful.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Research Design
  • Selection Bias*
  • Survival*