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Are clustering effects accounted for in statistical analysis in leading dental specialty journals?


Fleming, Padhraig S; Koletsi, Despina; Polychronopoulou, Argy; Eliades, Theodore; Pandis, Nikolaos (2013). Are clustering effects accounted for in statistical analysis in leading dental specialty journals? Journal of Dentistry, 41(3):265-270.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: In dental research multiple site observations within patients or taken at various time intervals are commonplace. These clustered observations are not independent; statistical analysis should be amended accordingly. This study aimed to assess whether adjustment for clustering effects during statistical analysis was undertaken in five specialty dental journals. METHODS: Thirty recent consecutive issues of Orthodontics (OJ), Periodontology (PJ), Endodontology (EJ), Maxillofacial (MJ) and Paediatric Dentristry (PDJ) journals were hand searched. Articles requiring adjustment accounting for clustering effects were identified and statistical techniques used were scrutinized. RESULTS: Of 559 studies considered to have inherent clustering effects, adjustment for this was made in the statistical analysis in 223 (39.1%). Studies published in the Periodontology specialty accounted for clustering effects in the statistical analysis more often than articles published in other journals (OJ vs. PJ: OR=0.21, 95% CI: 0.12, 0.37, p<0.001; MJ vs. PJ: OR=0.02, 95% CI: 0.00, 0.07, p<0.001; PDJ vs. PJ: OR=0.14, 95% CI: 0.07, 0.28, p<0.001; EJ vs. PJ: OR=0.11, 95% CI: 0.06, 0.22, p<0.001). A positive correlation was found between increasing prevalence of clustering effects in individual specialty journals and correct statistical handling of clustering (r=0.89). CONCLUSIONS: The majority of studies in 5 dental specialty journals (60.9%) examined failed to account for clustering effects in statistical analysis where indicated, raising the possibility of inappropriate decreases in p-values and the risk of inappropriate inferences.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: In dental research multiple site observations within patients or taken at various time intervals are commonplace. These clustered observations are not independent; statistical analysis should be amended accordingly. This study aimed to assess whether adjustment for clustering effects during statistical analysis was undertaken in five specialty dental journals. METHODS: Thirty recent consecutive issues of Orthodontics (OJ), Periodontology (PJ), Endodontology (EJ), Maxillofacial (MJ) and Paediatric Dentristry (PDJ) journals were hand searched. Articles requiring adjustment accounting for clustering effects were identified and statistical techniques used were scrutinized. RESULTS: Of 559 studies considered to have inherent clustering effects, adjustment for this was made in the statistical analysis in 223 (39.1%). Studies published in the Periodontology specialty accounted for clustering effects in the statistical analysis more often than articles published in other journals (OJ vs. PJ: OR=0.21, 95% CI: 0.12, 0.37, p<0.001; MJ vs. PJ: OR=0.02, 95% CI: 0.00, 0.07, p<0.001; PDJ vs. PJ: OR=0.14, 95% CI: 0.07, 0.28, p<0.001; EJ vs. PJ: OR=0.11, 95% CI: 0.06, 0.22, p<0.001). A positive correlation was found between increasing prevalence of clustering effects in individual specialty journals and correct statistical handling of clustering (r=0.89). CONCLUSIONS: The majority of studies in 5 dental specialty journals (60.9%) examined failed to account for clustering effects in statistical analysis where indicated, raising the possibility of inappropriate decreases in p-values and the risk of inappropriate inferences.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Dental Medicine > Clinic for Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:11 Jan 2013 09:55
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:18
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0300-5712
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdent.2012.11.012
PubMed ID:23201411

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