A method for analyzing clustered interval-censored data based on Cox's model



Methods for analyzing interval-censored data are well established. Unfortunately, these methods are inappropriate for the studies with correlated data. In this paper, we focus on developing a method for analyzing clustered interval-censored data. Our method is based on Cox's proportional hazard model with piecewise-constant baseline hazard function. The correlation structure of the data can be modeled by using Clayton's copula or independence model with proper adjustment in the covariance estimation. We establish estimating equations for the regression parameters and baseline hazards (and a parameter in copula) simultaneously. Simulation results confirm that the point estimators follow a multivariate normal distribution, and our proposed variance estimations are reliable. In particular, we found that the approach with independence model worked well even when the true correlation model was derived from Clayton's copula. We applied our method to a family-based cohort study of pandemic H1N1 influenza in Taiwan during 2009–2010. Using the proposed method, we investigate the impact of vaccination and family contacts on the incidence of pH1N1 influenza. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.