A simulation study of sample size demonstrated the importance of the number of events per variable to develop prediction models in clustered data
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology , Volume 68 - Issue 12 p. 1406- 1414
Objectives This study aims to investigate the influence of the amount of clustering [intraclass correlation (ICC) = 0%, 5%, or 20%], the number of events per variable (EPV) or candidate predictor (EPV = 5, 10, 20, or 50), and backward variable selection on the performance of prediction models. Study Design and Setting Researchers frequently combine data from several centers to develop clinical prediction models. In our simulation study, we developed models from clustered training data using multilevel logistic regression and validated them in external data. Results The amount of clustering was not meaningfully associated with the models' predictive performance. The median calibration slope of models built in samples with EPV = 5 and strong clustering (ICC = 20%) was 0.71. With EPV = 5 and ICC = 0%, it was 0.72. A higher EPV related to an increased performance: the calibration slope was 0.85 at EPV = 10 and ICC = 20% and 0.96 at EPV = 50 and ICC = 20%. Variable selection sometimes led to a substantial relative bias in the estimated predictor effects (up to 118% at EPV = 5), but this had little influence on the model's performance in our simulations. Conclusion We recommend at least 10 EPV to fit prediction models in clustered data using logistic regression. Up to 50 EPV may be needed when variable selection is performed.