Simple Estimators of the Intensity of Seasonal Occurrence

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Simple Estimators of the Intensity of Seasonal Occurrence

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Title: Simple Estimators of the Intensity of Seasonal Occurrence
Author: Rothman, Kenneth J; Brookhart, Maurice Alan

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Brookhart, M. Alan, and Kenneth J. Rothman. 2008. Simple estimators of the intensity of seasonal occurrence. BMC Medical Research Methodology 8: 67.
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Abstract: Background: Edwards's method is a widely used approach for fitting a sine curve to a time-series of monthly frequencies. From this fitted curve, estimates of the seasonal intensity of occurrence (i.e., peak-to-low ratio of the fitted curve) can be generated. Methods: We discuss various approaches to the estimation of seasonal intensity assuming Edwards's periodic model, including maximum likelihood estimation (MLE), least squares, weighted least squares, and a new closed-form estimator based on a second-order moment statistic and non-transformed data. Through an extensive Monte Carlo simulation study, we compare the finite sample performance characteristics of the estimators discussed in this paper. Finally, all estimators and confidence interval procedures discussed are compared in a re-analysis of data on the seasonality of monocytic leukemia. Results: We find that Edwards's estimator is substantially biased, particularly for small numbers of events and very large or small amounts of seasonality. For the common setting of rare events and moderate seasonality, the new estimator proposed in this paper yields less finite sample bias and better mean squared error than either the MLE or weighted least squares. For large studies and strong seasonality, MLE or weighted least squares appears to be the optimal analytic method among those considered. Conclusion: Edwards's estimator of the seasonal relative risk can exhibit substantial finite sample bias. The alternative estimators considered in this paper should be preferred.
Published Version: doi:10.1186/1471-2288-8-6
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