Measuring the Volume-Outcome Relation for Complex Hospital Surgery

Woohyeon Kim, Stephen Wolff, Vivian Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Prominent studies continue to measure the hospital volume-outcome relation using simple logistic or random-effects models. These regression models may not appropriately account for unobserved differences across hospitals (such as differences in organizational effectiveness) which could be mistaken for a volume outcome relation. Objective: To explore alternative estimation methods for measuring the volume-outcome relation for six major cancer operations, and to determine which estimation method is most appropriate. Methods: We analyzed patient-level hospital discharge data from three USA states and data from the American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals from 2000 to 2011. We studied six major cancer operations using three regression frameworks (logistic, fixed-effects, and random-effects) to determine the correlation between patient outcome (mortality) and hospital volume. Results: For our data, logistic and random-effects models suggest a non-zero volume effect, whereas fixed-effects models do not. Model-specification tests support the fixed-effects or random-effects model, depending on the surgical procedure; the basic logistic model is always rejected. Esophagectomy and rectal resection do not exhibit significant volume effects, whereas colectomy, pancreatic resection, pneumonectomy, and pulmonary lobectomy do. Conclusions: The statistical significance of the hospital volume-outcome relation depends critically on the regression model. A simple logistic model cannot control for unobserved differences across hospitals that may be mistaken for a volume effect. Even when one applies panel-data methods, one must carefully choose between fixed- and random-effects models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-464
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring the Volume-Outcome Relation for Complex Hospital Surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this