A Comparison of Three Methods for Calculating Confidence Intervals for the Benchmark Dose


* Address correspondence to Wout Slob, RIVM, PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands; wout.slob@rivm.nl.


Various methods exist to calculate confidence intervals for the benchmark dose in risk analysis. This study compares the performance of three such methods in fitting nonlinear dose-response models: the delta method, the likelihood-ratio method, and the bootstrap method. A data set from a developmental toxicity test with continuous, ordinal, and quantal dose-response data is used for the comparison of these methods. Nonlinear dose-response models, with various shapes, were fitted to these data. The results indicate that a few thousand runs are generally needed to get stable confidence limits when using the bootstrap method. Further, the bootstrap and the likelihood-ratio method were found to give fairly similar results. The delta method, however, resulted in some cases in different (usually narrower) intervals, and appears unreliable for nonlinear dose-response models. Since the bootstrap method is more time consuming than the likelihood-ratio method, the latter is more attractive for routine dose-response analysis. In the context of a probabilistic risk assessment the bootstrap method has the advantage that it directly links to Monte Carlo analysis.