A Bayesian Approach to Biological Variation Analysis.

A new interesting article has been published in Clin Chem. 2019 Aug;65(8):995-1005. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2018.300145. Epub 2019 Jul 1. and titled:

A Bayesian Approach to Biological Variation Analysis.

Authors of this article are:

Røraas T, Sandberg S, Aarsand AK, Støve B.

A summary of the article is shown below:

BACKGROUND: Biological variation (BV) data have many applications for diagnosing and monitoring disease. The standard statistical approaches for estimating BV are sensitive to “noisy data” and assume homogeneity of within-participant CV. Prior knowledge about BV is mostly ignored. The aims of this study were to develop Bayesian models to calculate BV that (a) are robust to “noisy data,” (b) allow heterogeneity in the within-participant CVs, and (c) take advantage of prior knowledge.METHOD: We explored Bayesian models with different degrees of robustness using adaptive Student t distributions instead of the normal distributions and when the possibility of heterogeneity of the within-participant CV was allowed. Results were compared to more standard approaches using chloride and triglyceride data from the European Biological Variation Study.RESULTS: Using the most robust Bayesian approach on a raw data set gave results comparable to a standard approach with outlier assessments and removal. The posterior distribution of the fitted model gives access to credible intervals for all parameters that can be used to assess reliability. Reliable and relevant priors proved valuable for prediction.CONCLUSIONS: The recommended Bayesian approach gives a clear picture of the degree of heterogeneity, and the ability to crudely estimate personal within-participant CVs can be used to explore relevant subgroups. Because BV experiments are expensive and time-consuming, prior knowledge and estimates should be considered of high value and applied accordingly. By including reliable prior knowledge, precise estimates are possible even with small data sets.© 2019 American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

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