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BMC Med Res Methodol. 2012; 12: 14.
Published online 2012 February 15. doi:  10.1186/1471-2288-12-14
PMCID: PMC3305608

A simple method for estimating relative risk using logistic regression

Abstract

Background

Odds ratios (OR) significantly overestimate associations between risk factors and common outcomes. The estimation of relative risks (RR) or prevalence ratios (PR) has represented a statistical challenge in multivariate analysis and, furthermore, some researchers do not have access to the available methods. Objective: To propose and evaluate a new method for estimating RR and PR by logistic regression.

Methods

A provisional database was designed in which events were duplicated but identified as non-events. After, a logistic regression was performed and effect measures were calculated, which were considered RR estimations. This method was compared with binomial regression, Cox regression with robust variance and ordinary logistic regression in analyses with three outcomes of different frequencies.

Results

ORs estimated by ordinary logistic regression progressively overestimated RRs as the outcome frequency increased. RRs estimated by Cox regression and the method proposed in this article were similar to those estimated by binomial regression for every outcome. However, confidence intervals were wider with the proposed method.

Conclusion

This simple tool could be useful for calculating the effect of risk factors and the impact of health interventions in developing countries when other statistical strategies are not available.

Keywords: Logistic regression, Odds ratio, Prevalence ratio, Relative risk.

Articles from BMC Medical Research Methodology are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central