Case-crossover design and its implementation in R

Zhongheng Zhang


Case-crossover design is a variation of case-control design that it employs persons’ history periods as controls. Case-crossover design can be viewed as the hybrid of case-control study and crossover design. Characteristic confounding that is constant within one person can be well controlled with this method. The relative risk and odds ratio, as well as their 95% confidence intervals (CIs), can be estimated using Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel method. R codes for the calculation are provided in the main text. Readers may adapt these codes to their own task. Conditional logistic regression model is another way to estimate odds ratio of the exposure. Furthermore, it allows for incorporation of other time-varying covariates that are not constant within subjects. The model fitting per se is not technically difficult because there is well developed statistical package. However, it is challenging to convert original dataset obtained from case report form to that suitable to be passed to clogit() function. R code for this task is provided and explained in the text.