Population attributable fraction based on marginal sufficient component cause model for mediation settings

Jui Hsiang Lin, An Shun Tai, Sheng Hsuan Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Population attributable fraction (PAF), defined as the proportion of the occurrence of a disease which will be reduced by eliminating risk factors in a population, is one of the most common measurements for evaluating the benefit of a health-related policy in epidemiologic study. In this article, we propose an alternative PAF defined based on sufficient cause framework, which decompose the occurrence of a disease into several pathways including mediation and mechanistic interaction. Methods: We propose a formal statistical definition and regression-based estimator for PAF based on sufficient cause framework within mediation settings. Under monotonicity assumption, the proposed method can decompose the occurrence of a disease into nine PAFs corresponding to all types of mechanisms attributing to exposure and the mediator, including the portion attributing to exposure directly, to mediator, to indirect effect through mediator, to the mechanistic interaction, to both of mediation and interaction, and to none of exposure or mediator. Results: We apply the proposed method to explore the mechanism of a hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) mediated by and/or interacted with alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and hepatitis B virus (HBV). When treating ALT as mediator, 56.77% of diseased subjects can be attributable to either HCV or abnormal ALT. When treating HBV as mediator, HCC is mainly induced by an exogenous high HBV viral load directly. Conclusions: The proposed method can identify the impact of exposure and pathway effects, and benefit to allocate the resources on intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Causal inference
  • Mechanistic interaction
  • Mediation
  • Population attributable fraction
  • Sufficient cause


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