Statistical validity for testing associations between genetic markers and quantitative traits in family data

Todd G. Nick, Varghese George, Robert C. Elston, Alexander F. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In genetic analysis it is often of interest to analyze associations between traits of unknown genetic etiology and genetic markers from pedigree data. Statistical methods that assume independence of pedigree members cannot be used because they disregard the statistical dependencies of members in a pedigree. For quantitative traits, a regression model proposed by George and Elston [Genet Epidemiol 4:193–201, 1987] uses an asymptotic likelihood ratio test and incorporates a correlation structure that allows for statistical dependence among the pedigree members. The statistical validity of this test is assessed for finite samples by measuring the discrepancy between the empirical and theoretical chi‐square distributions. The variance of the mean of the dependent variable is determined to be related to this discrepancy and can be used to determine whether a pedigree structure is large enough for making valid statistical inferences on the basis of the asymptotic test. A multi‐generational pedigree of 200 or so individuals should in many cases be sufficient for valid results when using the asymptotic likelihood ratio test for the association between markers and continuous traits. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-161
Number of pages17
JournalGenetic Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • familial correlation
  • goodness of fit
  • maximum likelihood
  • pedigree

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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