Generalized Additive Model (GAM) provides a flexible and effective technique for modelling nonlinear time-series in studies of the health effects of environmental factors. However, GAM assumes that errors are mutually independent, while time series can be correlated in adjacent time points. Here, a GAM with Autoregressive terms (GAMAR) is introduced to fill this gap.
Parameters in GAMAR are estimated by maximum partial likelihood using modified Newton’s method, and the difference between GAM and GAMAR is demonstrated using two simulation studies and a real data example. GAMM is also compared to GAMAR in simulation study 1.
In the simulation studies, the bias of the mean estimates from GAM and GAMAR are similar but GAMAR has better coverage and smaller relative error. While the results from GAMM are similar to GAMAR, the estimation procedure of GAMM is much slower than GAMAR. In the case study, the Pearson residuals from the GAM are correlated, while those from GAMAR are quite close to white noise. In addition, the estimates of the temperature effects are different between GAM and GAMAR.
GAMAR incorporates both explanatory variables and AR terms so it can quantify the nonlinear impact of environmental factors on health outcome as well as the serial correlation between the observations. It can be a useful tool in environmental epidemiological studies.