The relative importance of prognostic factors in studies of survival

Stat Med. 1993 Dec 30;12(24):2377-82. doi: 10.1002/sim.4780122413.


The relative importance of prognostic factors in regression can be measured either by standardized regression coefficients or by percentages of explained variation in a dependent variable. One advantage of using explained variation is the direct comparability of qualitative prognostic factors with others, or of groups of prognostic factors. The description of relative importance can be accomplished within marginal or partial effects analyses. It is demonstrated that it is possible not only to provide a descriptive ranking of prognostic factors according to their statistically determined importance, but also to make inferences concerning their relative importance, employing bootstrap techniques and procedures for multiple comparisons. The methods presented, which are new in the context of Cox regression, are exemplified by analyses of studies of lung cancer and breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Survival Analysis*
  • Survival Rate