Comparison of a traditional and a multilevel Cox Proportional Hazards model

Andrea Marie Ruggiero, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Hierarchically clustered populations are often encountered in public health research, but the traditional methods used in analyzing this type of data are not always adequate. In the case of survival time data, more appropriate methods have only begun to surface in the last couple of decades. Such methods include multilevel statistical techniques which, although more complicated to implement than traditional methods, are more appropriate. One population that is known to exhibit a hierarchical structure is that of patients who utilize the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs where patients are grouped not only by hospital, but also by geographic network (VISN). This project analyzes survival time data sets housed at the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center Research Department using two different Cox Proportional Hazards regression models, a traditional model and a multilevel model. VISNs that exhibit significantly higher or lower survival rates than the rest are identified separately for each model. In this particular case, although there are differences in the results of the two models, it is not enough to warrant using the more complex multilevel technique. This is shown by the small estimates of variance associated with levels two and three in the multilevel Cox analysis. Much of the differences that are exhibited in identification of VISNs with high or low survival rates is attributable to computer hardware difficulties rather than to any significant improvements in the model.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Ruggiero, Andrea Marie, "Comparison of a traditional and a multilevel Cox Proportional Hazards model" (2001). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1406494.