Mister P for surveys in epidemiology — using Stan!

Jon Zelner points us to this new article in the American Journal of Epidemiology, “Multilevel Regression and Poststratification: A Modelling Approach to Estimating Population Quantities From Highly Selected Survey Samples,” by Marnie Downes, Lyle Gurrin, Dallas English, Jane Pirkis, Dianne Currier, Matthew Spittal, and John Carlin, which begins:

Large-scale population health studies face increasing difficulties in recruiting representative samples of participants. Non-participation, item non-response and attrition, when follow-up is involved, often result in highly selected samples even in well-designed studies. We aimed to assess the potential value of multilevel regression and poststratification, a method previously used to successfully forecast US presidential election results, for addressing biases due to non-participation in the estimation of population descriptive quantities in large cohort studies. The investigation was performed as an extensive case study using a large national health survey of Australian males, the Ten to Men study. Analyses were performed in the Bayesian computational package RStan. Results showed greater consistency and precision across population subsets of varying sizes, when compared with estimates obtained using conventional survey sampling weights. Estimates for smaller population subsets exhibited a greater degree of shrinkage towards the national estimate. Multilevel regression and poststratification provides a promising analytic approach to addressing potential participation bias in the estimation of population descriptive quantities from large-scale health surveys and cohort studies.

It makes me so happy to see our methods used in new problems like this!

I’ve been dealing with all sorts of crap during the past week or so, so it’s good to be reminded of how our work can make a difference.