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A review of spline function procedures in R

Perperoglou, Aris and Sauerbrei, Willi and Abrahamowicz, Michal and Matthias, Schmid (2019) 'A review of spline function procedures in R.' BMC Medical Research Methodology. ISSN 1471-2288 (In Press)

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Abstract

Background: With progress on both the theoretical and the computational fronts the use of spline modelling has become an established tool in statistical regression analysis. An important issue in spline modelling is the availability of user friendly, well documented software packages. Following the idea of the STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies initiative to provide users with guidance documents on the application of statistical methods in observational research, the aim of this article is to provide an overview of the most widely used spline-based techniques and their implementation in R. Methods: In this work, we focus on the R Language for Statistical Computing which has become a hugely popular statistics software. We identified a set of packages that include functions for spline modelling within a regression framework. Using simulated and real data we provide an introduction to spline modelling and an overview of the most popular spline functions. Results: We present a series of simple scenarios of univariate data, where different basis functions are used to identify the correct functional form of an independent variable. Even in simple data, using routines from different packages would lead to different results. Conclusions: This work illustrate challenges that an analyst faces when working with data. Most differences can be attributed to the choice of hyper-parameters rather than the basis used. In fact an experienced user will know how to obtain a reasonable outcome, regardless of the type of spline used. However, many analysts do not have sufficient knowledge to use these powerful tools adequately and will need more guidance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: multivariable modelling, functional form of continuous covariates
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Mathematical Sciences, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2019 12:50
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2019 13:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24015

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