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||Assessing uncertainty in reference intervals via tolerance intervals: application to a mixed model describing HIV infection.
||Katki HA, Engels EA, Rosenberg PS
||2005 Oct 30
||We define the reference interval as the range between the 2.5th and 97.5th percentiles of a random variable. We use reference intervals to compare characteristics of a marker of disease progression between affected populations. We use a tolerance interval to assess uncertainty in the reference interval. Unlike the tolerance interval, the estimated reference interval does not contains the true reference interval with specified confidence (or credibility). The tolerance interval is easy to understand, communicate and visualize. We derive estimates of the reference interval and its tolerance interval for markers defined by features of a linear mixed model. Examples considered are reference intervals for time trends in HIV viral load, and CD4 per cent, in HIV-infected haemophiliac children and homosexual men. We estimate the intervals with likelihood methods and also develop a Bayesian model in which the parameters are estimated via Markov-chain Monte Carlo. The Bayesian formulation naturally overcomes some important limitations of the likelihood model.