A comparison of two approaches for power and sample size calculations in logistic regression models

Gwowen Shieh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Whittemore (1981) proposed an approach for calculating the sample size needed to test hypotheses with specified significance and power against a given alternative for logistic regression with small response probability. Based on the distribution of covariate, which could be either discrete or continuous, this approach first provides a simple closed-form approximation to the asymptotic covariance matrix of the maximum likelihood estimates, and then uses it to calculate the sample size needed to test a hypothesis about the parameter. Self et al. (1992) described a general approach for power and sample size calculations within the framework of generalized linear models, which include logistic regression as a special case. Their approach is based on an approximation to the distribution of the likelihood ratio statistic. Unlike the Whittemore approach, their approach is not limited to situations of small response probability. However, it is restricted to models with a finite number of covariate configurations. This study compares these two approaches to see how accurate they would be for the calculations of power and sample size in logistic regression models with various response probabilities and covariate distributions. The results indicate that the Whittemore approach has a slight advantage in achieving the nominal power only for one case with small response probability. It is outperformed for all other cases with larger response probabilities. In general, the approach proposed in Self et al.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-791
Number of pages29
JournalCommunications in Statistics - Theory and Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2000


  • Likelihood ratio test
  • Logistic regression
  • Maximum likelihood estimate
  • Power
  • Sample size

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