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Behav Genet. 1997 Mar;27(2):113-20.

The use of likelihood-based confidence intervals in genetic models.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond 23298, USA.


This article describes the computation and relative merits of likelihood-based confidence intervals, compared to other measures of error in parameter estimates. Likelihood-based confidence intervals have the advantage of being asymmetric, which is often the case with structural equation models for genetically informative studies. We show how the package Mx provides confidence intervals for parameters and functions of parameters in the context of a simple additive genetic, common, and specific environment threshold model for binary data. Previously published contingency tables for major depression in adult female twins are used for illustration. The support for the model shows a marked skew as the additive genetic parameter is systematically varied from zero to one. The impact of allowing different prevalence rates in MZ vs. DZ twins is explored by fitting a model with separate threshold parameters and comparing the confidence intervals. Despite the improvement in fit of the different prevalence model, the confidence intervals on all parameters broaden, owing to their covariance.

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