Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


The pattern in the ratio of disease rates over strata is a summary statistic used to describe the changing risk of disease in one group relative to another. While patterns of the ratios of disease rates over strata appear to correspond to specific changes in disease rates, plots of the disease rates over strata seem to contradict the information yielded by the ratios. For example, if disease rates from populations A and B have identical rates of decline (parallel lines), the difference in the rates (A - B) at each strata remains constant, while the ratio of the rates (AIB) increases over strata. Through simple algebraic manipulation, one can show that the pattern of the rate ratio is a function of the rate difference relative to the endemic disease rate. Thus, rather than describing the behavior of the disease rates, ratio patterns reflect the importance of exposure relative to the disease rate in the unexposed population.