Calculate incidence rate after adjustment

Hi all,

I would like to replicate the following study using my local cohort. i.e. to assess the absolute risk of bullous pemphigoid (BP) for patients initiated with DPP4 vs the comparator, Sulfonylureaurea drugs.
Lee H. Evaluation of Risk of Bullous Pemphigoid With Initiation of Dipeptidyl Peptidase–4 Inhibitor vs Second-generation Sulfonylurea.

This study used a propensity score matching (PSM), with a 1:1 nearest-neighbour matching algorithm (with maximum calliper width of 0.01). The balance between covariates after propensity score matching was evaluated through standardized mean differences (SMD). SMD < 0.10 implies adequate balance.

I learned that PSM should not be used. I would like to get the incidence rate after adjustment. How can I do this without using PSM? I was thinking of doing poisson / negative binomial model (using time-to-event data [in years] as an offset variable), but I don’t think that’s possible given I am looking at patient-level data, where patients either developed or did not develop BP. I don’t know if it works with logistic regression, but then, that would give estimates in the odds ratio.

This is the table from the study that I would like to replicate. Would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

A couple random remarks:

  • Correct, propensity score matching is pretty much a disaster
  • If you are interested in a single number summary IR per 1000 person-years, making such a simple summary implies a lot of sweeping interesting incidence curve shapes under the rug, so you might as well consider fitting a simple exponential survival model which can easily estimate events per person years

Thank you, Prof Harrell.

Would you recommend other types of matching?

Also, what is the incidence curve method that I can use with the simple exponential survival model? Is this the same as the KM cumulative incidence function?

See Regression Modeling Strategies - 17  Introduction to Survival Analysis ; it’s not the same as K-M. From the exponential model you get the mean failure time, or the hazard rate which is the reciprocal of the mean.

Let me add to Frank’s answer.
First. I also tend to oppose propensity score matching unless the researcher has a very good justification.

There are three ways off the top of my head to obtain adjusted incidence rates.

  1. Through matching, only not propensity score-based. Frank will hate me for suggesting that, but there is a compelling argument for it, see this answer by Noah on Cross Validated, and I’ll let you be the judge.
  2. Through using propensity scores but with inverse probability weighting instead of matching. Given the IP-weights you could then run a weighted Kaplan-Meier model and use it to obtain the incidence rate. See Cole and Hernan.
  3. You could indeed use Poisson regression (or quasi-Poisson/negative-binomial) to estimate the incidence rate ratio directly after adjusting for other covariates. Poisson regression still works for binary “count” data (they are still counts, they just count once :wink:). Since people with an event are no longer eligible to be further counted, I think you could use the time-of-event as an offset to explicitly set their follow-up time.

I do agree with Frank, though, that if you go through the trouble of repeating the analysis, you would benefit more from plotting the entire cumulative incidence rate curve (the reciprocal of a survival curve) rather than just report one incidence rate scalar.

Without further understanding rationales, I feel that probability weighting, like matching (but not as bad) should be avoided because of inefficiency and difficulty of interpreting final results, and that other models are better fitting than Poisson.

A very valid remark about interpretability, though in the current climate of statistical literacy, that’s the exact reason I once found myself advocating for IPW as a way to prevent colleagues from committing a Table-2 Fallacy :sweat_smile:

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