Time Scales in Epidemiological Analysis: An Empirical Comparison

  •  Prabhakar Chalise    
  •  Eric Chicken    
  •  Daniel McGee    


The Cox proportional hazards model is routinely used to analyze time-to-event data. This model requires the definition of a unique well-defined time scale. Most often, observation time is used as the time scale for both clinical and observational studies. Recently after a suggestion that it may be a more appropriate scale, chronological age has begun to appear as the time scale used in some reports. There appears to be no general consensus about which time scale is appropriate for any given analysis. It has been suggested that if the baseline hazard is exponential or if the age-at-entry is independent of covariates used in the model, then the two time scales provide similar results. In this report we provide an empirical examination of the results using the two different time scales using a large collection of data sets to examine the relationship between systolic blood pressure and coronary heart disease death. We demonstrate, in this empirical example that the two time-scales can sometimes lead to differing regression coefficient estimates but time-on-study model has better predictive ability in general.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-7032
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-7040
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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