Predicting deseasonalised serum 25 hydroxy vitamin D concentrations in the D-Health Trial: An analysis using boosted regression trees

Mary Waterhouse*, Catherine Baxter*, Briony Duarte Romero*, Donald S.A. McLeod*, Dallas R. English*, Bruce K. Armstrong*, Michael W. Clarke*, Peter R. Ebeling*, Gunter Hartel*, Michael G. Kimlin*, Rachel L. O'Connell*, Hai Pham*, Rachael M. Rodney Harris*, Jolieke C. van der Pols*, Alison J. Venn*, Penelope M. Webb*, David C. Whiteman*, Rachel E. Neale*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)



The D-Health Trial aims to determine whether monthly high-dose vitamin D supplementation can reduce the mortality rate and prevent cancer. We did not have adequate statistical power for subgroup analyses, so could not justify the high cost of collecting blood samples at baseline. To enable future exploratory analyses stratified by baseline vitamin D status, we developed models to predict baseline serum 25 hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration. 


We used data and serum 25(OH)D concentrations from participants who gave a blood sample during the trial for compliance monitoring and were randomised to placebo. Data were partitioned into training (80%) and validation (20%) datasets. Deseasonalised serum 25(OH)D concentrations were dichotomised using cut-points of 50, 60 and 75 nmol/L. We fitted boosted regression tree models, based on 13 predictors, and evaluated model performance using the validation data. 


The training and validation datasets had 1788 (10.5% <50 nmol/L, 23.1% <60 nmol, 48.8 <75 nmol/L) and 447 (11.9% <50 nmol/L, 25.7% <60 nmol/L, and 49.2% <75 nmol/L) samples, respectively. Ambient UV radiation and total intake of vitamin D were the strongest predictors of ‘low’ serum 25(OH)D concentration. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curves were 0.71, 0.70, and 0.66 for cut-points of <50, <60 and <75 nmol/L respectively. 


We exploited compliance monitoring data to develop models to predict serum 25(OH)D concentration for D-Health participants at baseline. This approach may prove useful in other trial settings where there is an obstacle to exhaustive data collection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106347
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


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