Estimation and reduction of bias in self-controlled case series with non-rare event dependent outcomes and heterogeneous populations

Kenneth Menglin Lee, Yin Bun Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The self-controlled case series (SCCS) is a commonly adopted study design in the assessment of vaccine and drug safety. Recurrent event data collected from SCCS studies are typically analyzed using the conditional Poisson model which assumes event times are independent within-cases. This assumption is violated in the presence of event dependence, where the occurrence of an event influences the probability and timing of subsequent events. When event dependence is suspected in an SCCS study, the standard recommendation is to include only the first event from each case in the analysis. However, first event analysis can still yield biased estimates of the exposure relative incidence if the outcome event is not rare. We first demonstrate that the bias in first event analysis can be even higher than previously assumed when subpopulations with different baseline incidence rates are present and describe an improved method for estimating this bias. Subsequently, we propose a novel partitioned analysis method and demonstrate how it can reduce this bias. We provide a recommendation to guide the number of partitions to use with the partitioned analysis, illustrate this recommendation with an example SCCS study of the association between beta-blockers and acute myocardial infarction, and compare the partitioned analysis against other SCCS analysis methods by simulation.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • bias
  • event dependence
  • partitioned analysis
  • self-controlled case series
  • subpopulations

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Statistics and Probability


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