Factors Influencing Drug Injection History among Prisoners: A Comparison between Classification and Regression Trees and Logistic Regression Analysis

Document Type : Original Article(s)


1 MSc Student, Department of Biostatistics, Student Research Committee, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Regional Educational Care Center for HIV, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics, Health Modeling Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran


Background: Due to the importance of medical studies, researchers of this field should be familiar with various types of statistical analyses to select the most appropriate method based on the characteristics of their data sets. Classification and regression trees (CARTs) can be as complementary to regression models. We compared the performance of a logistic regression model and a CART in predicting drug injection among prisoners. Methods: Data of 2720 Iranian prisoners was studied to determine the factors influencing drug injection. The collected data was divided into two groups of training and testing. A logistic regression model and a CART were applied on training data. The performance of the two models was then evaluated on testing data. Findings: The regression model and the CART had 8 and 4 significant variables, respectively. Overall, heroin use, history of imprisonment, age at first drug use, and marital status were important factors in determining the history of drug injection. Subjects without the history of heroin use or heroin users with short-term imprisonment were at lower risk of drug injection. Among heroin addicts with long-term imprisonment, individuals with higher age at first drug use and married subjects were at lower risk of drug injection. Although the logistic regression model was more sensitive than the CART, the two models had the same levels of specificity and classification accuracy. Conclusion: In this study, both sensitivity and specificity were important. While the logistic regression model had better performance, the graphical presentation of the CART simplifies the interpretation of the results. In general, a combination of different analytical methods is recommended to explore the effects of variables. Keywords: Classification and regression trees, Logistic regression model, History of drug injection, Drug abuse