A Comparison of the Empirical Performance of Methods for a Risk Identification System

PB Ryan, PE Stang, JM Overhage, MA Suchard, AG Hartzema, W DuMouchel, CG Reich, Martijn Schuemie, D Madigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Background Observational healthcare data offer the potential to enable identification of risks of medical products, and the medical literature is replete with analyses that aim to accomplish this objective. A number of established analytic methods dominate the literature but their operating characteristics in real-world settings remain unknown. Objectives To compare the performance of seven methods (new user cohort, case control, self-controlled case series, self-controlled cohort, disproportionality analysis, temporal pattern discovery, and longitudinal gamma poisson shrinker) as tools for risk identification in observational healthcare data. Research Design The experiment applied each method to 399 drug-outcome scenarios (165 positive controls and 234 negative controls across 4 health outcomes of interest) in 5 real observational databases (4 administrative claims and 1 electronic health record). Measures Method performance was evaluated through Area Under the receiver operator characteristics Curve (AUC), bias, mean square error, and confidence interval coverage probability. Results Multiple methods offer strong predictive accuracy, with AUC > 0.70 achievable for all outcomes and databases with more than one analytical approach. Selfcontrolled methods (self-controlled case series, temporal pattern discovery, self-controlled cohort) had higher predictive accuracy than cohort and case control methods across all databases and outcomes. Methods differed in the expected value and variance of the error distribution. All methods had lower coverage probability than the expe Conclusions Observational healthcare data can inform risk identification of medical product effects on acute liver injury, acute myocardial infarction, acute renal failure and gastrointestinal bleeding. However, effect estimates from all methods require calibration to address inconsistency in method operating characteristics. Further empirical evaluation is required to gauge the generalizability of these findings to other databases and outcomes.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)S143-S158
JournalDrug Safety
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-03-77-02

Cite this