A case-cohort design for assessing covariate effects in longitudinal studies

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Journal Article
Biometrics, 2005, 61 (4), pp. 982 - 991
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The case-cohort design for longitudinal data consists of a subcohort sampled at the beginning of the study that is followed repeatedly over time, and a case sample that is ascertained through the course of the study. Although some members in the subcohort may experience events over the study period, we refer to it as the "control-cohort." The case sample is a random sample of subjects not in the control-cohort, who have experienced at least one event during the study period. Different correlations among repeated observations on the same individual are accommodated by a two-level random-effects model. This design allows consistent estimation of all parameters estimable in a cohort design and is a cost-effective way to study the effects of covariates on repeated observations of relatively rare binary outcomes when exposure assessment is expensive. It is an extension of the case-cohort design (Prentice, 1986, Biometrika73, 1-11) and the bidirectional case-crossover design (Navidi, 1998, Biometrics54, 596-605). A simulation study compares the efficiency of the longitudinal case-cohort design to a full cohort analysis, and we find that in certain situations up to 90% efficiency can be obtained with half the sample size required for a full cohort analysis. A bootstrap method is presented that permits testing for intra-subject homogeneity in the presence of unidentifiable nuisance parameters in the two-level random-effects model. As an illustration we apply the design to data from an ongoing study of childhood asthma.
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