Optimal approximate conversions of odds ratios and hazard ratios to risk ratios

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Abstract Odds ratios approximate risk ratios when the outcome under consideration is rare but can diverge substantially from risk ratios when the outcome is common. In this paper, we derive optimal analytic conversions of odds ratios and hazard ratios to risk ratios that are minimax for the bias ratio when outcome probabilities are specified to fall in any fixed interval. The results for hazard ratios are derived under a proportional hazard assumption for the exposure. For outcome probabilities specified to lie in symmetric intervals centered around 0.5, it is shown that the square‐root transformation of the odds ratio is the optimal minimax conversion for the risk ratio. General results for any nonsymmetric interval are given both for odds ratio and for hazard ratio conversions. The results are principally useful when odds ratios or hazard ratios are reported in papers, and the reader does not have access to the data or to information about the overall outcome prevalence.

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