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Patterns of cleaning product exposures using a novel clustering approach for data with correlated variables

Abstract : PURPOSE: Clustering methods may be useful in epidemiology to better characterize exposures and account for their multidimensional aspects. In this context, application of clustering models allowing for highly dependent variables is of particular interest. We aimed to characterize patterns of domestic exposure to cleaning products using a novel clustering model allowing for highly dependent variables. METHODS: To identify domestic cleaning patterns in a large population of French women, we used a mixture model of dependency blocks. This novel approach specifically models within-class dependencies, and is an alternative to the latent class model, which assumes conditional independence. Analyses were conducted in 19,398 participants of the E3N study (women aged 61-88 years) who completed a questionnaire regarding household cleaning habits. RESULTS: Seven classes were identified, which differed with the frequency of cleaning tasks (e.g., dusting/sweeping/hoovering) and use of specific products (e.g., bleach, sprays). The model also grouped the variables into conditionally independent blocks, providing a summary of the main dependencies among the variables. CONCLUSIONS: The mixture model of dependency blocks, a useful alternative to the latent class model, may have broader application in epidemiology, in particular, in the context of exposome research and growing need for data-reduction methods.
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Matthieu Marbac, Mohammed Sedki, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Orianne Dumas. Patterns of cleaning product exposures using a novel clustering approach for data with correlated variables. Annals of Epidemiology, Elsevier Masson, 2018, 28 (8), pp.563-569.e6. ⟨10.1016/j.annepidem.2018.05.004⟩. ⟨inserm-02468294⟩

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