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Stat Methods Med Res. 2006 Dec;15(6):547-69.

Efficient interval estimation for age-adjusted cancer rates.

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  • 1National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.


The age-adjusted cancer rates are defined as the weighted average of the age-specific cancer rates, where the weights are positive, known, and normalized so that their sum is 1. Fay and Feuer developed a confidence interval for a single age-adjusted rate based on the gamma approximation. Fay used the gamma approximations to construct an F interval for the ratio of two age-adjusted rates. Modifications of the gamma and F intervals are proposed and a simulation study is carried out to show that these modified gamma and modified F intervals are more efficient than the gamma and F intervals, respectively, in the sense that the proposed intervals have empirical coverage probabilities less than or equal to their counterparts, and that they also retain the nominal level. The normal and beta confidence intervals for a single age-adjusted rate are also provided, but they are shown to be slightly liberal. Finally, for comparing two correlated age-adjusted rates, the confidence intervals for the difference and for the ratio of the two age-adjusted rates are derived incorporating the correlation between the two rates. The proposed gamma and F intervals and the normal intervals for the correlated age-adjusted rates are recommended to be implemented in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program of the National Cancer Institute.

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