logistic regression

Generalized Ordinal Logistic Regression for Ordered Response Variables

October 5th, 2012 by

When the response variable for a regression model is categorical, linear models don’t work.  Logistic regression is one type of model that does, and it’s relatively straightforward for binary responses.

When the response variable is not just categorical, but ordered categories, the model needs to be able to handle the multiple categories, and ideally, account for the ordering.

An easy-to-understand and common example is level of educational attainment.  Depending on the population being studied, some response categories may include:

1 Less than high school
2 Some high school, but no degree
3 Attain GED
4 High school graduate

You can see how there are qualitative differences in these categories that wouldn’t be captured by years of education.  You can also see that (more…)

Why use Odds Ratios in Logistic Regression?

June 1st, 2012 by

Odds ratios are one of those concepts in statistics that are just really hard to wrap your head around. Although probability and odds both measure how likely it is that something will occur, probability is just so much easier to understand for most of us.

I’m not sure if it’s just a more intuitive concepts, or if it’s something were just taught so much earlier so that it’s more ingrained.  In either case, without a lot of practice, most people won’t have an immediate understanding of how likely something is if it’s communicated through odds.

So why not always use probability? (more…)

How to Combine Complicated Models with Tricky Effects

July 22nd, 2011 by

Need to dummy code in a Cox regression model?

Interpret interactions in a logistic regression?

Add a quadratic term to a multilevel model?

quadratic interaction plotThis is where statistical analysis starts to feel really hard. You’re combining two difficult issues into one.

You’re dealing with both a complicated modeling technique at Stage 3 (survival analysis, logistic regression, multilevel modeling) and tricky effects in the model (dummy coding, interactions, and quadratic terms).

The only way to figure it all out in a situation like that is to break it down into parts.  (more…)

Dummy Code Software Defaults Mess With All of Us

July 15th, 2011 by

In my last blog post, I wrote about a mistake I once made when I didn’t realize the defaults for dummy coding were different in two SPSS procedures (Binary Logistic and GEE).

Ironically, about the same time I wrote it, I was having a conversation with Ann Maria de Mars on Twitter.  She was trying to figure out why her logistic regression model fit results were identical in SAS Proc Logistic and SPSS Binary Logistic, but the coefficients in SAS were half those of SPSS.

It was ironic because I, of course, didn’t recognize it as the same issue and wasn’t much help.

But Ann Maria investigated and discovered that it came down to differences in the defaults for coding categorical predictors in SAS and SPSS that did it.  Her detailed and humorous explanation is here.

Some takeaways for you, the researcher and data analyst:

1. Give yourself a break if you hit a snag.  Even very experienced data analysts, statisticians who understand what they’re doing, get stumped sometimes.  Don’t ever think that performing data analysis is an IQ test.  You’re bringing together many skills and complex tools.

2. Learn thy software.  In my last post, I phrased it “Know thy software”, but this is where you get to know it.  Snags are good opportunities to investigate the details of your software, just like Ann Maria did.  If you can think of it as a challenge to figure out–a puzzle–it can actually be fun.

Make friends with your syntax manuals.

3. Get help when you need it. Statistical software packages *are* complex tools. You don’t have to know everything to use them

Ask colleagues.  Call customer support. Call a stat consultant.  That’s what they’re there for.

4. A great way to check your work is to run your test two different ways.  It’s another reason to be able to use at least two stat software packages.  I’m not suggesting you have to run every analysis twice.  But when a result looks strange, or you want to double-check a specific important model, this can be a good strategy for testing things out.

It may be that your results aren’t telling you what you think they are.

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Steps to Take When Your Regression (or Other Statistical) Results Just Look…Wrong

April 19th, 2010 by

Stage 2You’ve probably experienced this before. You’ve done a statistical analysis, you’ve figured out all the steps, you finally get results and are able to interpret them. But they just look…wrong. Backwards, or even impossible—theoretically or logically.

This happened a few times recently to a couple of my consulting clients, and once to me. So I know that feeling of panic well. There are so many possible causes of incorrect results, but there are a few steps you can take that will help you figure out which one you’ve got and how (and whether) to correct it.

Errors in Data Coding and Entry

In both of my clients’ cases, the problem was that they had coded missing data with an impossible and extreme value, like 99. But they failed to define that code as missing in SPSS. So SPSS took 99 as a real data point, which (more…)

Interpreting Regression Coefficients in Models other than Ordinary Linear Regression

January 5th, 2010 by

Someone who registered for my upcoming Interpreting (Even Tricky) Regression Models workshop asked if the content applies to logistic regression as well.

The short answer: Yes

The long-winded detailed explanation of why this is true and the one caveat:

One of the greatest things about regression models is that they all have the same set up: (more…)