Pierce, D. A., Væth, M. and Cologne, J. B. Allowance for Random Dose Estimation Errors in Atomic Bomb Survivor Studies: A Revision. Radiat. Res. 170, 118–126 (2008).

Allowing for imprecision of radiation dose estimates for A-bomb survivors followed up by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation can be improved through recent statistical methodology. Since the entire RERF dosimetry system has recently been revised, it is timely to reconsider this. We have found that the dosimetry revision itself does not warrant changes in these methods but that the new methodology does. In addition to assumptions regarding the form and magnitude of dose estimation errors, previous and current methods involve the apparent distribution of true doses in the cohort. New formulas give results conveniently and explicitly in terms of these inputs. Further, it is now possible to use assumptions about two components of the dose errors, referred to in the statistical literature as “classical” and “Berkson-type”. There are indirect statistical indications, involving non-cancer biological effects, that errors may be somewhat larger than assumed before, in line with recommendations made here. Inevitably, methods must rely on uncertain assumptions about the magnitude of dose errors, and it is comforting to find that, within the range of plausibility, eventual cancer risk estimates are not very sensitive to these.

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