, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 565-581
Date: 18 Oct 2007

Multistage sampling for latent variable models

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I consider the design of multistage sampling schemes for epidemiologic studies involving latent variable models, with surrogate measurements of the latent variables on a subset of subjects. Such models arise in various situations: when detailed exposure measurements are combined with variables that can be used to assign exposures to unmeasured subjects; when biomarkers are obtained to assess an unobserved pathophysiologic process; or when additional information is to be obtained on confounding or modifying variables. In such situations, it may be possible to stratify the subsample on data available for all subjects in the main study, such as outcomes, exposure predictors, or geographic locations. Three circumstances where analytic calculations of the optimal design are possible are considered: (i) when all variables are binary; (ii) when all are normally distributed; and (iii) when the latent variable and its measurement are normally distributed, but the outcome is binary. In each of these cases, it is often possible to considerably improve the cost efficiency of the design by appropriate selection of the sampling fractions. More complex situations arise when the data are spatially distributed: the spatial correlation can be exploited to improve exposure assignment for unmeasured locations using available measurements on neighboring locations; some approaches for informative selection of the measurement sample using location and/or exposure predictor data are considered.