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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.)
Title Accounting for selection bias in association studies with complex survey data
Volume 25
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 444
URL https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3981932/
Obtaining representative information from hidden and hard-to-reach populations is fundamental to describing the epidemiology of many sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Unfortunately simple random sampling is impractical in these settings, as no registry of names exists from which to sample the population at random. However, complex sampling designs can be used as members of these populations tend to congregate at known locations, which can be enumerated and sampled at random. For example, female sex workers may be found at brothels and street corners, whereas injection drug users often come together at shooting galleries. Despite the logistical appeal, complex sampling schemes lead to unequal probabilities of selection, and failure to account for this differential selection can result in biased estimates of population averages and relative risks. However, standard techniques to account for selection can lead to substantial losses in efficiency. Consequently, researchers implement a variety of strategies in an effort to balance validity and efficiency. Some fully or partially account for the survey design, while others do nothing and treat the sample as a realization of the population of interest. We use directed acyclic graphs to show how certain survey sampling designs, combined with subject-matter considerations unique to individual exposure-outcome associations, can induce selection bias. Finally, we present a novel yet simple maximum likelihood approach for analyzing complex survey data, which optimizes statistical efficiency at no cost to validity. We use simulated data to illustrate this method and compare it with other analytic techniques.

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