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Calculating sample size for

a case-control study
Statistical Power
Statistical power is the probability
of finding an effect if its real.
Factors Affecting Power
1. Size of the effect
2. Standard deviation of the
characteristic
3. Bigger sample size
4. Significance level desired
Sample size calculations
Based on these elements, you can
write a formal mathematical
equation that relates power,
sample size, effect size, standard
deviation, and significance level.
Calculating sample size for a
case-control study: binary
exposure
Use difference in proportions
formula
formula for difference in
proportions Represents the
desired power
Sample size in r=ratio of (typically .84 for
the case group controls to 80% power).
cases

r 1 ( p )(1 p )( Z Z/2 )
2

n( )
r (p1 p2 ) 2

Represents the
A measure of desired level
Effect Size
variability (similar of statistical
(the
to standard significance
difference in
deviation) (typically
Example
How many cases and controls do
you need assuming
80% power
You want to detect an odds ratio of
2.0 or greater
An equal number of cases and
controls (r=1)
The proportion exposed in the control
group is 20%
Example, continued
r 1 ( p )(1 p )( Z Z/2 )
2

n( )
r (p1 p2 ) 2
For 80% power, Z=.84
For 0.05 significance level, Z=1.96
r=1 (equal number of cases and controls)
The proportion exposed in the control group is
20%
To get proportion of cases exposed:
ORp controlsexp 2.0(.20) .40
pcaseexp pcaseexp .33
pcontrolsexp (OR 1) 1 (.20)( 2.0 1) 1 1.20

Average proportion exposed =


Example, continued
r 1 ( p )(1 p )( Z Z/2 )
2

n( )
r (p1 p2 ) 2

(.265)(1 .265)(. 84 1.96) 2


n2 181
(.33 .20) 2

Therefore, n=362 (181 cases, 181 controls)


Calculating sample size for a
case-control study: continuous
exposure
Use difference in means formula
formula for difference in
means
Represents the
r=ratio of desired power
Sample size in (typically .84 for
controls to
the case group 80% power).
cases

r 1 ( Z Z/2 )
2 2

n( ) 2
r (difference )
Represents the
Standard Effect Size desired level of
deviation of the (the statistical
outcome variable difference in significance
(typically 1.96).
Example
How many cases and controls do you
need assuming
80% power
The standard deviation of the characteristic
you are comparing is 10.0
You want to detect a difference in your
characteristic of 5.0 (one half standard
deviation)
An equal number of cases and controls
(r=1)
Example, continued
r 1 ( Z Z/2 )
2 2

n( ) 2
r (difference )
For 80% power, Z=.84
For 0.05 significance level, Z=1.96
r=1 (equal number of cases and controls)
=10.0
Difference = 5.0
Example, continued
r 1 ( Z Z/2 )
2 2

n( ) 2
r (difference )
2
10 (7.84)
n ( 2) 2
(2)2 (7.84) 63
2

(5)

Therefore, n=126 (63 cases, 63 controls)