The Use of Logic Regression in Epidemiologic Studies to Investigate Multiple Binary Exposures: An Example of Occupation History and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Andrea Bellavia, Ran S. Rotem, Aisha S. Dickerson, Johnni Hansen, Ole Gredal, Marc G. Weisskopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Investigating the joint exposure to several risk factors is becoming a key component of epidemiologic studies. Individuals are exposed to multiple factors, often simultaneously, and evaluating patterns of exposures and high-dimension interactions may allow for a better understanding of health risks at the individual level. When jointly evaluating high-dimensional exposures, common statistical methods should be integrated with machine learning techniques that may better account for complex settings. Among these, Logic regression was developed to investigate a large number of binary exposures as they relate to a given outcome. This method may be of interest in several public health settings, yet has never been presented to an epidemiologic audience. In this paper, we review and discuss Logic regression as a potential tool for epidemiological studies, using an example of occupation history (68 binary exposures of primary occupations) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in a population-based Danish cohort. Logic regression identifies predictors that are Boolean combinations of the original (binary) exposures, fully operating within the regression framework of interest (e. g. linear, logistic). Combinations of exposures are graphically presented as Logic trees, and techniques for selecting the best Logic model are available and of high importance. While highlighting several advantages of the method, we also discuss specific drawbacks and practical issues that should be considered when using Logic regression in population-based studies. With this paper, we encourage researchers to explore the use of machine learning techniques when evaluating large-dimensional epidemiologic data, as well as advocate the need of further methodological work in the area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190032
JournalEpidemiologic Methods
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Logic regression
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • big data
  • machine learning
  • occupational epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Applied Mathematics

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