The objectives of this study were 1) to provide an estimate of the value of the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for dental caries data at tooth and surface level, 2) to provide an estimate of the design effect (DE) to be used in the determination of sample size estimates for future dental surveys, and 3) to explore the usefulness of multilevel modeling of cross-sectional survey data by comparing the model estimates derived from multilevel and single-level models. Using data from the United Kingdom Adult Dental Health Survey 2009, the ICC and DE were calculated for surfaces within a tooth, teeth within the individual, and surfaces within the individual. Simple and multilevel logistic regression analysis was performed with the outcome variables carious tooth or surface. ICC estimated that 10% of the variance in surface caries is attributable to the individual level and 30% of the variance in surfaces caries is attributable to variation between teeth within individuals. When comparing multilevel with simple logistic models, β values were 4 to 5 times lower and the standard error 2 to 3 times lower in multilevel models. All the fit indices showed multilevel models were a better fit than simple models. The DE was 1.4 for the clustering of carious surfaces within teeth, 6.0 for carious teeth within an individual, and 38.0 for carious surfaces within the individual. The ICC for dental caries data was 0.21 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.204-0.220) at the tooth level and 0.30 (95% CI, 0.284-0.305) at the surface level. The DE used for sample size calculation for future dental surveys will vary on the level of clustering, which is important in the analysis - the DE is greatest when exploring the clustering of surfaces within individuals. Failure to consider the effect of clustering on the design and analysis of epidemiological trials leads to an overestimation of the impact of interventions and the importance of risk factors in predicting caries outcome.
- dental public health
- design effect (DE)
- intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC)
- multilevel modeling