Journal Article

Does published orthodontic research account for clustering effects during statistical data analysis?

Despina Koletsi, Nikolaos Pandis, Argy Polychronopoulou and Theodore Eliades

in The European Journal of Orthodontics

Published on behalf of European Orthodontics Society

Volume 34, issue 3, pages 287-292
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0141-5387
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2210 | DOI:
Does published orthodontic research account for clustering effects during statistical data analysis?

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In orthodontics, multiple site observations within patients or multiple observations collected at consecutive time points are often encountered. Clustered designs require larger sample sizes compared to individual randomized trials and special statistical analyses that account for the fact that observations within clusters are correlated. It is the purpose of this study to assess to what degree clustering effects are considered during design and data analysis in the three major orthodontic journals. The contents of the most recent 24 issues of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics (AJODO), Angle Orthodontist (AO), and European Journal of Orthodontics (EJO) from December 2010 backwards were hand searched. Articles with clustering effects and whether the authors accounted for clustering effects were identified. Additionally, information was collected on: involvement of a statistician, single or multicenter study, number of authors in the publication, geographical area, and statistical significance. From the 1584 articles, after exclusions, 1062 were assessed for clustering effects from which 250 (23.5 per cent) were considered to have clustering effects in the design (kappa = 0.92, 95 per cent CI: 0.67–0.99 for inter rater agreement). From the studies with clustering effects only, 63 (25.20 per cent) had indicated accounting for clustering effects. There was evidence that the studies published in the AO have higher odds of accounting for clustering effects [AO versus AJODO: odds ratio (OR) = 2.17, 95 per cent confidence interval (CI): 1.06–4.43, P = 0.03; EJO versus AJODO: OR = 1.90, 95 per cent CI: 0.84–4.24, non-significant; and EJO versus AO: OR = 1.15, 95 per cent CI: 0.57–2.33, non-significant). The results of this study indicate that only about a quarter of the studies with clustering effects account for this in statistical data analysis.

Journal Article.  3546 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Restorative Dentistry and Orthodontics

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