Power calculations using exact data simulation: A useful tool for genetic study designs

Sophie Van Der Sluis, Conor V. Dolan, Michael C. Neale, Danielle Posthuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Statistical power calculations constitute an essential first step in the planning of scientific studies. If sufficient summary statistics are available, power calculations are in principle straightforward and computationally light. In designs, which comprise distinct groups (e.g., MZ & DZ twins), sufficient statistics can be calculated within each group, and analyzed in a multi-group model. However, when the number of possible groups is prohibitively large (say, in the hundreds), power calculations on the basis of the summary statistics become impractical. In that case, researchers may resort to Monte Carlo based power studies, which involve the simulation of hundreds or thousands of replicate samples for each specified set of population parameters. Here we present exact data simulation as a third method of power calculation. Exact data simulation involves a transformation of raw data so that the data fit the hypothesized model exactly. As in power calculation with summary statistics, exact data simulation is computationally light, while the number of groups in the analysis has little bearing on the practicality of the method. The method is applied to three genetic designs for illustrative purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-211
Number of pages10
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


  • Power
  • Simulation

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