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BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011 Apr 17;11:48. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-11-48.

Estimating uncertainty of alcohol-attributable fractions for infectious and chronic diseases.

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) 33 Russell Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2S1, Canada.



Alcohol is a major risk factor for burden of disease and injuries globally. This paper presents a systematic method to compute the 95% confidence intervals of alcohol-attributable fractions (AAFs) with exposure and risk relations stemming from different sources.


The computation was based on previous work done on modelling drinking prevalence using the gamma distribution and the inherent properties of this distribution. The Monte Carlo approach was applied to derive the variance for each AAF by generating random sets of all the parameters. A large number of random samples were thus created for each AAF to estimate variances. The derivation of the distributions of the different parameters is presented as well as sensitivity analyses which give an estimation of the number of samples required to determine the variance with predetermined precision, and to determine which parameter had the most impact on the variance of the AAFs.


The analysis of the five Asian regions showed that 150 000 samples gave a sufficiently accurate estimation of the 95% confidence intervals for each disease. The relative risk functions accounted for most of the variance in the majority of cases.


Within reasonable computation time, the method yielded very accurate values for variances of AAFs.

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