A parallel analysis of individual and ecological data on residential radon and lung cancer in south-west England
Darby S., Deo H., Doll R., Whitley E.
Parallel individual and ecological analyses of data on residential radon have been performed using information on cases of lung cancer and population controls from a recent study in south-west England. For the individual analysis the overall results indicated that the relative risk of lung cancer at 100 Bq m-3 compared with at 0 Bq m-3 was 1.12 (95% confidence interval (0.99, 1.27)) after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, county of residence and social class. In the ecological analysis substantial bias in the estimated effect of radon was present for one of the two counties involved unless an additional variable, urban-rural status, was included in the model, although this variable was not an important confounder in the individual level analysis. Most of the methods that have been recommended for overcoming the limitations of ecological studies would not in practice have proved useful in identifying this variable as an appreciable source of bias.