Sensitivity analysis for an unmeasured confounder: a review of two independent methods

Ronir Raggio Luiz, Maria Deolinda Borges Cabral
2010 Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia  
One of the main purposes of epidemiological studies is to estimate causal effects. Causal inference should be addressed by observational and experimental studies. A strong constraint for the interpretation of observational studies is the possible presence of unobserved confounders (hidden biases). An approach for assessing the possible effects of unobserved confounders may be drawn up through the use of a sensitivity analysis that determines how strong the effects of an unmeasured confounder
more » ... sured confounder should be to explain an apparent association, and which should be the characteristics of this confounder to exhibit such an effect. The purpose of this paper is to review and integrate two independent sensitivity analysis methods. The two methods are presented to assess the impact of an unmeasured confounder variable: one developed by Greenland under an epidemiological perspective, and the other developed from a statistical standpoint by Rosenbaum. By combining (or merging) epidemiological and statistical issues, this integration became a more complete and direct sensitivity analysis, encouraging its required diffusion and additional applications. As observational studies are more subject to biases and confounding than experimental settings, the consideration of epidemiological and statistical aspects in sensitivity analysis strengthens the causal inference.
doi:10.1590/s1415-790x2010000200002 fatcat:n66fkjnmcndtlnr5ft4i4sz6ki