Strengthening Analytical Thinking for Observation Studies (STRATOS)

The validity and practical utility of observational medical research depends critically on good study design, excellent data quality, appropriate statistical methods and accurate interpretation of results. Statistical methodology has seen substantial development in recent times. Unfortunately, many of recent methodological developments are ignored in practice. Consequently, design and analysis of observational studies often exhibit serious weaknesses. The lack of guidance on vital practical issues discourages many applied researchers from using more sophisticated and possibly more appropriate methods when analyzing observational studies. Furthermore, many analyses are conducted by researchers with a relatively weak statistical background and limited experience in using statistical methodology and software. Consequently, analyses reported in the medical literature are often flawed, casting doubt on their results and conclusions. An efficient way to help researchers to keep up with recent methodological developments is to develop guidance documents that are spread to the research community at large.

These observations led to the initiation of the international initiative for strengthening analytical thinking for observational studies (STRATOS), a large collaboration of experts in many different areas of biostatistical research. The overarching objective of STRATOS is to provide accessible and accurate guidance in the design and analysis of observational studies. The guidance is intended for applied statisticians and other data analysts with varying levels of statistical education, experience and interests (Sauerbrei et al, Statistics in Medicine 2014, 5413-5432).  The initiative involves more than 80 members from 15 countries (www.stratos-initiative.org), who work in nine topic groups (TGs), focusing on such general issues as missing data, measurement error, survival analysis, and causal inference.

The STRATOS initiative is closely connected to the International Society of Clinical Biostatistics (ISCB) and was launched at a half-day Mini-Symposium at the ISCB meeting in Munich, in August 2013. At ISCB2016 we will present recent progress from nearly all topic groups. Confirmed speakers are Harald Binder (High-dimensional data, TG9), Gary Collins (Evaluating tests and prediction models, TG6), Ruth Keogh (Measurement error and misclassification, TG4), Saskia LeCessie (Initial data analysis, TG3) and  Willi Sauerbrei (Selection of variables and functional form in multivariable analysis, TG2).

After the presentations we will have a discussion about general issues of the STRATOS initiative. It is open to the public and everybody interested is welcome. 

Chairs: Willi Sauerbrei and Gary Collins
 09.00  Willi Sauerbrei, Freiburg, Germany 
 TG2, Steps to derive guidance for variable selection and function selection
 09.25  Saskia le Cessie, Leiden, Netherlands  
 TG3, A conceptual framework for initial data analysis
 09.50  Gary Collins, Oxford, UK 
 TG6, Evaluating Diagnostic Tests and Prediction Models: a review of existing guidance
 10.15  Maja Pohar-Perme, Ljubljana, Slovenia 
 TG8, On some practical issues in the analysis of survival data
 11.00 Elizabeth Williamson, UK
TG5, Design of observational studies: a fresh look at classical designs
 11.25  Ruth Keogh, London, UK 
 TG4, Measurement error in nutritional epidemiology: challenges, current practice, and the scope for improvement
 11.50  Harald Binder, Mainz, Germany 
 TG9, Key topics for guiding design and analysis of high-dimensional data
 12.15  Bianca De Stavola, London, UK 
 TG7, Causal questions and principled answers: exposures, populations, and effect estimation
   Discussions on the future of STRATOS
Chairs: Willi Sauerbrei and Gary Collins
 14.00  Part I: Open to the public
 General issues, improving research, new topics, getting involved
 14.45 Part II: Internal meeting for STRATOS members
 15.30 Close of day