Cross-classified multilevel models improved standard error estimates of covariates in clinical outcomes – a simulation study

Paul Doedens, Gerben ter Riet, Lindy Lou Boyette, Corine Latour, Lieuwe de Haan, Jos Twisk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To compare estimates of effect and variability resulting from standard linear regression analysis and hierarchical multilevel analysis with cross-classified multilevel analysis under various scenarios. Study design and setting: We performed a simulation study based on a data structure from an observational study in clinical mental health care. We used a Markov chain Monte Carlo approach to simulate 18 scenarios, varying sample sizes, cluster sizes, effect sizes and between group variances. For each scenario, we performed standard linear regression, multilevel regression with random intercept on patient level, multilevel regression with random intercept on nursing team level and cross-classified multilevel analysis. Results: Applying cross-classified multilevel analyses had negligible influence on the effect estimates. However, ignoring cross-classification led to underestimation of the standard errors of the covariates at the two cross-classified levels and to invalidly narrow confidence intervals. This may lead to incorrect statistical inference. Varying sample size, cluster size, effect size and variance had no meaningful influence on these findings. Conclusion: In case of cross-classified data structures, the use of a cross-classified multilevel model helps estimating valid precision of effects, and thereby, support correct inferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Volume145
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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