Penalized count data regression with application to hospital stay after pediatric cardiac surgery

Zhu Wang, Shuangge Ma, Michael Zappitelli, Chirag Parikh, Ching Yun Wang, Prasad Devarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Pediatric cardiac surgery may lead to poor outcomes such as acute kidney injury (AKI) and prolonged hospital length of stay (LOS). Plasma and urine biomarkers may help with early identification and prediction of these adverse clinical outcomes. In a recent multi-center study, 311 children undergoing cardiac surgery were enrolled to evaluate multiple biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of AKI and other clinical outcomes. LOS is often analyzed as count data, thus Poisson regression and negative binomial (NB) regression are common choices for developing predictive models. With many correlated prognostic factors and biomarkers, variable selection is an important step. The present paper proposes new variable selection methods for Poisson and NB regression. We evaluated regularized regression through penalized likelihood function. We first extend the elastic net (Enet) Poisson to two penalized Poisson regression: Mnet, a combination of minimax concave and ridge penalties; and Snet, a combination of smoothly clipped absolute deviation (SCAD) and ridge penalties. Furthermore, we extend the above methods to the penalized NB regression. For the Enet, Mnet, and Snet penalties (EMSnet), we develop a unified algorithm to estimate the parameters and conduct variable selection simultaneously. Simulation studies show that the proposed methods have advantages with highly correlated predictors, against some of the competing methods. Applying the proposed methods to the aforementioned data, it is discovered that early postoperative urine biomarkers including NGAL, IL18, and KIM-1 independently predict LOS, after adjusting for risk and biomarker variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2685-2703
Number of pages19
JournalStatistical Methods in Medical Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Enet
  • Mnet
  • Poisson regression
  • Snet
  • negative binomial regression
  • variable selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Health Information Management


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