Sensitivity Analysis of Misclassification: A Graphical and a Bayesian Approach

Haitao Chu, Zhaojie Wang, Stephen R. Cole, Sander Greenland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Purpose: Misclassification can produce bias in measures of association. Sensitivity analyses have been suggested to explore the impact of such bias, but do not supply formally justified interval estimates. Methods: To account for exposure misclassification, recently developed Bayesian approaches were extended to incorporate prior uncertainty and correlation of sensitivity and specificity. Under nondifferential misclassification, a contour plot is used to depict relations among the corrected odds ratio, sensitivity, and specificity. Results: Methods are illustrated by application to a case-control study of cigarette smoking and invasive pneumococcal disease while varying the distributional assumptions about sensitivity and specificity. Results are compared with those of conventional methods, which do not account for misclassification, and a sensitivity analysis, which assumes fixed sensitivity and specificity. Conclusion: By using Bayesian methods, investigators can incorporate uncertainty about misclassification into probabilistic inferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-841
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian Analysis
  • Bias
  • Contour Plot
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Misclassification
  • Sensitivity Analysis


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