Measurement error and its impact on partial correlation and multiple linear regression analyses

Kiang Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


In studies examining associations between dietary factors and biomedical risk factors, the relations, if they exist, are frequently attenuated by measurement error. Measurement error may be due to a large intraindividual variation and an inadequate number of measurements or to an inaccurate measuring instrument. This paper evaluates the impact of measurement error on partial correlation and multiple linear regression analyses. Quantitative methods are derived to estimate the potential attenuation of associations. The results indicate that when the controlled variables do not have measurement error, but the correlated variables do, the attenuation of the partial correlation coefficient (or multiple regression coefficient) is greater than that of the simple correlation (or regression) coefficient When both the correlated variables and the controlled variables have measurement error, the partial correlation (or the regression) coefficients can be either increased or decreased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-874
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988


  • Diet
  • Epidemiologic methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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