Just yesterday I got a call from a researcher who was reviewing a paper. She didn’t think the authors had run their model correctly, but wanted to make sure. The authors had run the same logistic regression model separately for each sex because they expected that the effects of the predictors were different for men and women.

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this approach. It’s completely legitimate to consider men and women as two separate populations and to model each one separately.

As often happens, the problem was not in the statistics, but what they were trying to conclude from them. The authors went on to compare the two models, and specifically compare the coefficients for the same predictors across the two models.

Uh-oh. Can’t do that.

If you’re just describing the values of the coefficients, fine. But if you want to compare the coefficients AND draw conclusions about their differences, *you need a p-value for the difference*.

Luckily, this is easy to get. Simply include an interaction term between Sex (male/female) and any predictor whose coefficient you want to compare. If you want to compare all of them because you believe that all predictors have different effects for men and women, then include an interaction term between sex and each predictor. If you have 6 predictors, that means 6 interaction terms.

In such a model, if Sex is a dummy variable (and it should be), two things happen:

1.the coefficient for each predictor becomes the coefficient for that variable ONLY for the reference group.

2. the interaction term between sex and each predictor represents the DIFFERENCE in the coefficients between the reference group and the comparison group. If you want to know the coefficient for the comparison group, you have to add the coefficients for the predictor alone and that predictor’s interaction with Sex.

The beauty of this approach is that the p-value for each interaction term gives you a significance test for the difference in those coefficients.