Selection of Matching Variables in Community Health Intervention Trials


In a matched experimental design, the effectiveness of matching in reducing bias and increasing power depends on the strength of the association between the matching variable and the outcome of interest. In particular, in the design of a community health intervention trial, the effectiveness of a matched design, where communities are matched according to some community characteristic, depends on the strength of the correlation between the matching characteristic and the change in the health behavior being measured.

We attempt to estimate the correlation between community characteristics and changes in health behaviors in four datasets from community intervention trials and observational studies. Community characteristics that are highly correlated with changes in health behaviors would potentially be effective matching variables in studies of health intervention programs designed to change those behaviors.

Among the community characteristics considered, the urban-rural character of the community was the most highly correlated with changes in health behaviors. The correlations between Per Capita Income, Percent Low Income & Percent aged over 65 and changes in health behaviors were marginally statistically significant (p < 0.08).

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