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Epidemiology. 2012 Nov;23(6):902-9. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31826c3129.

Correction of phenotype misclassification based on high-discrimination genetic predictive risk models.

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Department of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Misclassification of phenotype status can seriously affect accuracy in association studies, including studies of genetic risk factors. A common problem is the classification of participants as nondiseased because of insufficient diagnostic workup or because participants have not been followed up long enough to develop disease. Some validated predictive models may have high discrimination in predicting disease. We suggest that information from such models can be used to predict the risk that a nondiseased participant will eventually develop disease and to recode the status of participants predicted to be at highest risk. We evaluate conditions under which recoding results in a maximal net improvement in the accuracy of phenotype classification. Net improvement is expected only when the positive likelihood ratio of the predictive model is larger than the inverse of the odds of disease among apparently nondiseased controls. We conducted simulations to probe the impact of reclassification on the power to detect new risk factors under several scenarios of classification accuracy of the previously developed models. We also apply this framework to a validated model of progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration that uses genetic and nongenetic variables (area under the curve = 0.915). In the training cohort (n = 2,937) and a separate validation cohort (n = 1,227), 195-272 and 78-91 nonprogressor participants, respectively, were reclassified as progressors. Correction of phenotype misclassification based on highly informative predictive models may be helpful in identifying additional genetic and other risk factors, when there are validated risk factors that provide strong discriminating ability.

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