Correcting for measurement error in fractional polynomial models using Bayesian modelling and regression calibration, with an application to alcohol and mortality Academic Article uri icon


  • Exposure measurement error can result in a biased estimate of the association between an exposure and outcome. When the exposure-outcome relationship is linear on the appropriate scale (e.g. linear, logistic) and the measurement error is classical, that is the result of random noise, the result is attenuation of the effect. When the relationship is non-linear, measurement error distorts the true shape of the association. Regression calibration is a commonly used method for correcting for measurement error, in which each individual's unknown true exposure in the outcome regression model is replaced by its expectation conditional on the error-prone measure and any fully measured covariates. Regression calibration is simple to execute when the exposure is untransformed in the linear predictor of the outcome regression model, but less straightforward when non-linear transformations of the exposure are used. We describe a method for applying regression calibration in models in which a non-linear association is modelled by transforming the exposure using a fractional polynomial model. It is shown that taking a Bayesian estimation approach is advantageous. By use of Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms, one can sample from the distribution of the true exposure for each individual. Transformations of the sampled values can then be performed directly and used to find the expectation of the transformed exposure required for regression calibration. A simulation study shows that the proposed approach performs well. We apply the method to investigate the relationship between usual alcohol intake and subsequent all-cause mortality using an error model that adjusts for the episodic nature of alcohol consumption.

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Gray, C. M., Carroll, R. J., Lentjes, M., & Keogh, R. H.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • May 2019