Estimation of a common effect parameter from sparse follow-up data

Biometrics. 1985 Mar;41(1):55-68.


Breslow (1981, Biometrika 68, 73-84) has shown that the Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio is a consistent estimator of a common odds ratio in sparse stratifications. For cohort studies, however, estimation of a common risk ratio or risk difference can be of greater interest. Under a binomial sparse-data model, the Mantel-Haenszel risk ratio and risk difference estimators are consistent in sparse stratifications, while the maximum likelihood and weighted least squares estimators are biased. Under Poisson sparse-data models, the Mantel-Haenszel and maximum likelihood rate ratio estimators have equal asymptotic variances under the null hypothesis and are consistent, while the weighted least squares estimators are again biased; similarly, of the common rate difference estimators the weighted least squares estimators are biased, while the estimator employing "Mantel-Haenszel" weights is consistent in sparse data. Variance estimators that are consistent in both sparse data and large strata can be derived for all the Mantel-Haenszel estimators.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Follow-Up Studies*
  • Humans
  • Probability
  • Research Design*
  • Risk