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Original Article
How authors select covariates in the multivariate analysis of cancer studies in 10 oncology journals in Korea: a descriptive study
Mi Ah Han, Hae Ran Kim, Sang Eun Yoon, Sun Mi Park, Boyoung Kim, Seo-Hee Kim, So-Yeong Kim
Sci Ed. 2024;11(1):26-32.   Published online February 20, 2024
DOI: https://doi.org/10.6087/kcse.327
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AbstractAbstract PDFSupplementary Material
Purpose: Cancer is the leading cause of death in Korea, leading many investigators to focus on cancer research. We present the current practice of variable selection methods for multivariate analyses in cancer studies recently published in major oncology journals in Korea.
Methods
We included observational studies investigating associations between exposures and outcomes using multivariate analysis from 10 major oncology journals published in 2021 in KoreaMed, a Korean electronic database. Two reviewers independently and in duplicate performed the reference screening and data extraction. For each study included in this review, we collected important aspects of the variable selection methods in multivariate models, including the study characteristics, analytic methods, and covariate selection methods. The descriptive statistics of the data are presented.
Results
In total, 107 studies were included. None used prespecified covariate selection methods, and half of the studies did not provide enough information to classify covariate selection methods. Among the studies reporting selection methods, almost all studies only used data-driven methods, despite having study questions related to causality. The most commonly used method for variable selection was significance in the univariate model, with the outcome as the dependent variable.
Conclusion
Half of the included studies did not provide sufficient information to assess the variable selection method, and most used a limited data-driven method. We believe that the reporting of covariate selection methods requires improvement, and our results can be used to educate researchers, editors, and reviewers to increase the transparency and adequacy of covariate selection for multivariable analyses in observational studies.

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