The Impact of Outliers on Net-Benefit Regression Model in Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Yu Wen Wen, Yi Wen Tsai, David Bin Chia Wu, Pei Fen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Ordinary least square (OLS) in regression has been widely used to analyze patient-level data in cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA). However, the estimates, inference and decision making in the economic evaluation based on OLS estimation may be biased by the presence of outliers. Instead, robust estimation can remain unaffected and provide result which is resistant to outliers. The objective of this study is to explore the impact of outliers on net-benefit regression (NBR) in CEA using OLS and to propose a potential solution by using robust estimations, i.e. Huber M-estimation, Hampel M-estimation, Tukey's bisquare M-estimation, MM-estimation and least trimming square estimation. Simulations under different outlier-generating scenarios and an empirical example were used to obtain the regression estimates of NBR by OLS and five robust estimations. Empirical size and empirical power of both OLS and robust estimations were then compared in the context of hypothesis testing.Simulations showed that the five robust approaches compared with OLS estimation led to lower empirical sizes and achieved higher empirical powers in testing cost-effectiveness. Using real example of antiplatelet therapy, the estimated incremental net-benefit by OLS estimation was lower than those by robust approaches because of outliers in cost data. Robust estimations demonstrated higher probability of cost-effectiveness compared to OLS estimation. The presence of outliers can bias the results of NBR and its interpretations. It is recommended that the use of robust estimation in NBR can be an appropriate method to avoid such biased decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65930
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - 19 Jun 2013


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