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Completion Potentials of Sufficient Component Causes

Lee, Wen-Chung

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31824ea1d8

Many epidemiologists are familiar with Rothman's sufficient component cause model. In this paper, I propose a new index for this model, the completion potential index I show that, with proper assumptions (monotonicity, independent competing causes, proportional hazards), completion potentials for various classes of sufficient causes are estimable from routine epidemiologic data (cohort, case-control or time-to-event data). I discuss the advantage of the completion potential index over indices of rate ratio, rate difference, causal-pie weight, population attributable fraction, and attributable fraction within the exposed population. Hypothetical and real data examples are used. The completion potential index proposed here allows better characterization of complex interactive effects of multiple monotonic risk factors.

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From the Research Center for Genes, Environment and Human Health and Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

Submitted 10 January 2011; accepted 29 November 2011.

Supported by a grant from the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC 99-2628-B-002-061-MY3). The author reported no other financial interests related to this research.

Supplemental digital content is available through direct URL citations in the HTML and PDF versions of this article ( This content is not peer-reviewed or copy-edited; it is the sole responsibility of the author.

Correspondence: Wen-Chung Lee, Rm. 536, No. 17, Xuzhou Rd., Taipei 100, Taiwan. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.