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Comparing median lethal concentration values using confidence interval overlap or ratio tests.
Wheeler-MW; Park-RM; Bailer-AJ
Environ Toxicol Chem 2006 May; 25(5):1441-1444
Experimenters in toxicology often compare the concentration-response relationship between two distinct populations using the median lethal concentration (LC50). This comparison is sometimes done by calculating the 95% confidence interval for the LC50 for each population, concluding that no significant difference exists if the two confidence intervals overlap. A more appropriate test compares the ratio of the LC50s to 1 or the log(LC50 ratio) to 0. In this ratio test, we conclude that no difference exists in LC50s if the confidence interval for the ratio of the LC50s contains 1 or the confidence interval for the log(LC50 ratio) contains 0. A Monte Carlo simulation study was conducted to compare the confidence interval overlap test to the ratio test. The confidence interval overlap test performs substantially below the nominal alpha = 0.05 level, closer to p = 0.005; therefore, it has considerably less power for detecting true differences compared to the ratio test. The ratio-based method exhibited better type I error rates and superior power properties in comparison to the confidence interval overlap test. Thus, a ratio-based statistical procedure is preferred to using simple overlap of two independently derived confidence intervals.
Toxicology; Statistical-analysis; Mathematical-models; Statistical-quality-control; Animals; Comparative-toxicology
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway MS-15, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA
Issue of Publication
Research Tools and Approaches: Risk Assessment Methods
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Page last reviewed: March 11, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division