# The GEE Procedure (Experimental)

### Example 42.1 Comparison of the Marginal and Random Effect Models for Binary Data

A clinical trial (Stokes, Davis, and Koch, 2012) was conducted to compare two treatments for a respiratory illness. Patients in each of two centers were randomly assigned to two groups: one group received the active treatment and one group received a placebo.

During treatment, respiratory status was determined for each of four visits and is represented by the variable Outcome (coded here as 0 = poor, 1 = good). The variables Center, Treatment, Sex, and Baseline (baseline respiratory status) are classification variables that have two levels. The variable Age (age at time of entry into the study) is a continuous variable.

All 111 patients completed the study. That is, there are no missing data for responses or covariates. The following statements create the data set Resp:

data Resp;
input Center ID Treatment $Sex$ Age Baseline Visit1-Visit4;
datalines;
1  1 P M 46 0 0 0 0 0
1  2 P M 28 0 0 0 0 0
1  3 A M 23 1 1 1 1 1
1  4 P M 44 1 1 1 1 0
1  5 P F 13 1 1 1 1 1
1  6 A M 34 0 0 0 0 0

... more lines ...

2 51 A M 43 1 1 1 1 0
2 52 A F 39 0 1 1 1 1
2 53 A M 68 0 1 1 1 1
2 54 A F 63 1 1 1 1 1
2 55 A M 31 1 1 1 1 1
;

data Resp;
set Resp;
Visit=1;  Outcome=Visit1;  output;
Visit=2;  Outcome=Visit2;  output;
Visit=3;  Outcome=Visit3;  output;
Visit=4;  Outcome=Visit4;  output;
run;


Suppose represents the respiratory status of patient i at the jth visit, , and represents the mean of the respiratory status. Logistic regression is commonly used to analyze binary response data. You can use the variance function for the binomial distribution, , and the logit link function, . The model for the mean is , where is a vector of regression parameters to be estimated.

The following SAS statements perform the GEE model fit:

proc gee data=Resp descend;
class ID Treatment Center Sex Baseline;
model Outcome=Treatment Center Sex Age Baseline /
repeated subject=ID(Center) / corr=exch corrw;
run;


Both the MODEL statement and the REPEATED statement are required.

In the MODEL statement, you use the DIST=BIN and LINK=LOGIT options to specify a logistic regression, and you specify Outcome as the response variable and Treatment, Center, Sex, Age, and Baseline as the explanatory variables. The DESCEND option in the PROC GEE statement requests that the probability that Outcome = 1 be modeled. If the DESCEND option had not been specified, the probability that Outcome = 0 would be modeled by default.

You use the REPEATED statement to specify the subject and the correlation structure of the responses. The SUBJECT=ID(CENTER) option specifies that the observations in any single cluster are uniquely identified by Center and ID. An equivalent specification is SUBJECT=ID*CENTER. Because the same ID values are used in each center, one of these specifications is needed. If ID values were unique across all centers, SUBJECT=ID could be specified. The option TYPE=EXCH specifies the exchangeable working correlation structure.

The "Model Information" table displayed in Output 42.1.1 provides information about the specified logistic regression model and the input data set.

Output 42.1.1: Model Information

The GEE Procedure

Model Information
Data Set WORK.RESP
Distribution Binomial
Dependent Variable Outcome

General information about the GEE analysis is displayed in Output 42.1.2.

Output 42.1.2: Model Fitting Information

GEE Model Information
Correlation Structure Exchangeable
Subject Effect ID(Center) (111 levels)
Number of Clusters 111
Correlation Matrix Dimension 4
Maximum Cluster Size 4
Minimum Cluster Size 4

The results of GEE model fitting are displayed in Output 42.1.3. If you specify no other options, the standard errors, confidence intervals, Z scores, and p-values are based on empirical standard error estimates. You can specify the MODELSE option in the REPEATED statement to create a table that is based on model-based standard error estimates.

Output 42.1.3: Results of Model Fitting

Parameter Estimates for Response Model
with Empirical Standard Error
Parameter   Estimate Standard
Error
95% Confidence Limits Z Pr > |Z|
Intercept   1.6391 0.5247 0.6107 2.6675 3.12 0.0018
Treatment A 1.2654 0.3467 0.5859 1.9448 3.65 0.0003
Treatment P 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 . .
Center 1 -0.6495 0.3532 -1.3418 0.0428 -1.84 0.0660
Center 2 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 . .
Sex F 0.1368 0.4402 -0.7261 0.9996 0.31 0.7560
Sex M 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 . .
Age   -0.0188 0.0130 -0.0442 0.0067 -1.45 0.1480
Baseline 0 -1.8457 0.3460 -2.5238 -1.1676 -5.33 <.0001
Baseline 1 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 . .

Treatment and Baseline appear to be strongly influential, and Center might be marginally significant.

For comparison, a generalized linear mixed model is fitted to the data set to obtain subject-specific effects. Specifically, consider the logistic regression model,

where the random effect is normally distributed with zero mean and variance, .

The following statements use the GLIMMIX procedure to fit a generalized linear mixed model:

proc glimmix data=Resp;
class ID Treatment Center Sex Baseline;
model Outcome (desc)=Treatment Center Sex Age Baseline /
dist=binary solution;
random ID(Center);
run;


Output 42.1.4 displays the parameter estimates for the fixed effects in the generalized linear mixed model.

Output 42.1.4: Parameter Estimates

The GLIMMIX Procedure

Solutions for Fixed Effects
Effect Treatment Sex Center Baseline Estimate Standard
Error
DF t Value Pr > |t|
Intercept         1.7936 0.6292 105 2.85 0.0053
Treatment A       1.4758 0.3898 333 3.79 0.0002
Treatment P       0 . . . .
Center     1   -0.7201 0.4051 105 -1.78 0.0784
Center     2   0 . . . .
Sex   F     0.1732 0.5034 333 0.34 0.7310
Sex   M     0 . . . .
Age         -0.02011 0.01507 333 -1.33 0.1831
Baseline       0 -2.1343 0.3971 333 -5.38 <.0001
Baseline       1 0 . . . .

From Output 42.1.3 and Output 42.1.4, you can see that the parameter estimates from the marginal model and the mixed-effects model differ. For example, the estimated treatment effects are 1.2654 and 1.4758 from the marginal model and the mixed-effects model, respectively.

The interpretation of the model effects in the marginal and random models differs. For example, the estimated treatment effect from the marginal model indicates that, on average, the odds of a good response for the patients is times higher when they receive the active treatment versus the placebo. The estimated treatment effect from the generalized linear mixed model indicates that an individual patient’s odds of a good response is times higher when the patient receives the active treatment versus the placebo.

The choice of the marginal model or a subject-specific model often depends on the goal of your analysis: whether you are interested in population-averaged effects or subject-specific effects. For more information, see Diggle et al. (2002); Fitzmaurice, Laird, and Ware (2011).