# Confidence Intervals for the Difference Between Two Means

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1 Chapter 47 Confidence Intervals for the Difference Between Two Means Introduction This procedure calculates the sample size necessary to achieve a specified distance from the difference in sample means to the confidence limit(s) at a stated confidence level for a confidence interval about the difference in means when the underlying data distribution is normal. Caution: This procedure assumes that the standard deviations of the future samples will be the same as the standard deviations that are specified. If the standard deviation to be used in the procedure is estimated from a previous sample or represents the population standard deviation, the Confidence Intervals for the Difference between Two Means with Tolerance Probability procedure should be considered. That procedure controls the probability that the distance from the difference in means to the confidence limits will be less than or equal to the value specified. Technical Details There are two formulas for calculating a confidence interval for the difference between two population means. The different formulas are based on whether the standard deviations are assumed to be equal or unequal. For each of the cases below, let the means of the two populations be represented by µ and µ, and let the standard deviations of the two populations be represented as σ and σ. Case Standard Deviations Assumed Equal When σ = σ = σ are unknown, the appropriate two-sided confidence interval for µ - µ is where X X ± t s α /, n + n p + n n ( n ) s + ( n ) s s p = n + n Upper and lower one-sided confidence intervals can be obtained by replacing α/ with α. 47-

2 The required sample size for a given precision, D, can be found by solving the following equation iteratively D = t α /, n + n s p + n n This equation can be used to solve for D or n or n based on the values of the remaining parameters. Case Standard Deviations Assumed Unequal When σ σ are unknown, the appropriate two-sided confidence interval for µ µ is where s s X X ± t α /, ν + n n ν = s s + n n 4 4 s s + n ( n ) n ( n ) In this case t is an approximate t and the method is known as the Welch-Satterthwaite method. Upper and lower one-sided confidence intervals can be obtained by replacing α/ with α. The required sample size for a given precision, D, can be found by solving the following equation iteratively s s D = t α /, ν + n n This equation can be used to solve for D or n or n based on the values of the remaining parameters. Confidence Level The confidence level, α, has the following interpretation. If thousands of samples of n and n items are drawn from populations using simple random sampling and a confidence interval is calculated for each sample, the proportion of those intervals that will include the true population mean difference is α. Notice that is a long term statement about many, many samples. 47-

3 Procedure Options This section describes the options that are specific to this procedure. These are located on the Design tab. For more information about the options of other tabs, go to the Procedure Window chapter. Design Tab The Design tab contains most of the parameters and options that you will be concerned with. Solve For Solve For This option specifies the parameter to be solved for from the other parameters. One-Sided or Two-Sided Interval Interval Type Specify whether the interval to be used will be a one-sided or a two-sided confidence interval. Confidence Confidence Level ( Alpha) The confidence level, α, has the following interpretation. If thousands of samples of n and n items are drawn from populations using simple random sampling and a confidence interval is calculated for each sample, the proportion of those intervals that will include the true population mean difference is α. Often, the values 0.95 or 0.99 are used. You can enter single values or a range of values such as 0.90, 0.95 or 0.90 to 0.99 by 0.0. Sample Size (When Solving for Sample Size) Group Allocation Select the option that describes the constraints on N or N or both. The options are Equal (N = N) This selection is used when you wish to have equal sample sizes in each group. Since you are solving for both sample sizes at once, no additional sample size parameters need to be entered. Enter N, solve for N Select this option when you wish to fix N at some value (or values), and then solve only for N. Please note that for some values of N, there may not be a value of N that is large enough to obtain the desired power. Enter N, solve for N Select this option when you wish to fix N at some value (or values), and then solve only for N. Please note that for some values of N, there may not be a value of N that is large enough to obtain the desired power. Enter R = N/N, solve for N and N For this choice, you set a value for the ratio of N to N, and then PASS determines the needed N and N, with this ratio, to obtain the desired power. An equivalent representation of the ratio, R, is 47-3

4 N = R * N. Enter percentage in Group, solve for N and N For this choice, you set a value for the percentage of the total sample size that is in Group, and then PASS determines the needed N and N with this percentage to obtain the desired power. N (Sample Size, Group ) This option is displayed if Group Allocation = Enter N, solve for N N is the number of items or individuals sampled from the Group population. N must be. You can enter a single value or a series of values. N (Sample Size, Group ) This option is displayed if Group Allocation = Enter N, solve for N N is the number of items or individuals sampled from the Group population. N must be. You can enter a single value or a series of values. R (Group Sample Size Ratio) This option is displayed only if Group Allocation = Enter R = N/N, solve for N and N. R is the ratio of N to N. That is, R = N / N. Use this value to fix the ratio of N to N while solving for N and N. Only sample size combinations with this ratio are considered. N is related to N by the formula: where the value [Y] is the next integer Y. N = [R N], For example, setting R =.0 results in a Group sample size that is double the sample size in Group (e.g., N = 0 and N = 0, or N = 50 and N = 00). R must be greater than 0. If R <, then N will be less than N; if R >, then N will be greater than N. You can enter a single or a series of values. Percent in Group This option is displayed only if Group Allocation = Enter percentage in Group, solve for N and N. Use this value to fix the percentage of the total sample size allocated to Group while solving for N and N. Only sample size combinations with this Group percentage are considered. Small variations from the specified percentage may occur due to the discrete nature of sample sizes. The Percent in Group must be greater than 0 and less than 00. You can enter a single or a series of values. Sample Size (When Not Solving for Sample Size) Group Allocation Select the option that describes how individuals in the study will be allocated to Group and to Group. The options are Equal (N = N) This selection is used when you wish to have equal sample sizes in each group. A single per group sample size will be entered. 47-4

5 Enter N and N individually This choice permits you to enter different values for N and N. Enter N and R, where N = R * N Choose this option to specify a value (or values) for N, and obtain N as a ratio (multiple) of N. Enter total sample size and percentage in Group Choose this option to specify a value (or values) for the total sample size (N), obtain N as a percentage of N, and then N as N - N. Sample Size Per Group This option is displayed only if Group Allocation = Equal (N = N). The Sample Size Per Group is the number of items or individuals sampled from each of the Group and Group populations. Since the sample sizes are the same in each group, this value is the value for N, and also the value for N. The Sample Size Per Group must be. You can enter a single value or a series of values. N (Sample Size, Group ) This option is displayed if Group Allocation = Enter N and N individually or Enter N and R, where N = R * N. N is the number of items or individuals sampled from the Group population. N must be. You can enter a single value or a series of values. N (Sample Size, Group ) This option is displayed only if Group Allocation = Enter N and N individually. N is the number of items or individuals sampled from the Group population. N must be. You can enter a single value or a series of values. R (Group Sample Size Ratio) This option is displayed only if Group Allocation = Enter N and R, where N = R * N. R is the ratio of N to N. That is, R = N/N Use this value to obtain N as a multiple (or proportion) of N. N is calculated from N using the formula: where the value [Y] is the next integer Y. N=[R x N], For example, setting R =.0 results in a Group sample size that is double the sample size in Group. R must be greater than 0. If R <, then N will be less than N; if R >, then N will be greater than N. You can enter a single value or a series of values. Total Sample Size (N) This option is displayed only if Group Allocation = Enter total sample size and percentage in Group. This is the total sample size, or the sum of the two group sample sizes. This value, along with the percentage of the total sample size in Group, implicitly defines N and N. 47-5

6 The total sample size must be greater than one, but practically, must be greater than 3, since each group sample size needs to be at least. You can enter a single value or a series of values. Percent in Group This option is displayed only if Group Allocation = Enter total sample size and percentage in Group. This value fixes the percentage of the total sample size allocated to Group. Small variations from the specified percentage may occur due to the discrete nature of sample sizes. The Percent in Group must be greater than 0 and less than 00. You can enter a single value or a series of values. Precision Distance from Mean Difference to Limit(s) This is the distance from the confidence limit(s) to the difference in means. For two-sided intervals, it is also known as the precision, half-width, or margin of error. You can enter a single value or a list of values. The value(s) must be greater than zero. Standard Deviations S and S (Standard Deviations) Enter an estimate of the standard deviation of group or. The standard deviation must be a positive number. Caution: The sample size estimates for this procedure assume that the standard deviation that is achieved when the confidence interval is produced is the same as the standard deviation entered here. Press the 'Standard Deviation Estimator' button to obtain help on estimating the standard deviation. You can enter a range of values such as,, 3 or to 0 by. Standard Deviation Equality Assumption Specify whether the standard deviations are assumed to be the same or different. The choice will determine which of the two common confidence interval formulas for estimating the difference in population means will be used. Assume S and S are Unequal When the standard deviations are assumed to be unequal, the variances are not pooled and an approximate method is used for the confidence interval formula. This approximate method is sometimes called the Welch- Satterthwaite method. Assume S and S are Equal When the standard deviations are assumed to be equal, the pooled variance formula is used in the calculation of the confidence interval. The degrees of freedom are N + N. Recommendation: Because the standard deviations of two populations are rarely equal, it is recommended that the standard deviations are assumed to be unequal. The Welch-Satterthwaite confidence interval calculation is generally accepted and commonly used. 47-6

7 Example Calculating Sample Size Suppose a study is planned in which the researcher wishes to construct a two-sided 95% confidence interval for the difference between two population means such that the width of the interval is no wider than 0 units. The confidence level is set at 0.95, but 0.99 is included for comparative purposes. The standard deviation estimates, based on the range of data values, are 3 for Population and 38 for Population. Instead of examining only the interval half-width of 0, a series of half-widths from 5 to 5 will also be considered. The goal is to determine the necessary sample size for each group. Setup This section presents the values of each of the parameters needed to run this example. First, from the PASS Home window, load the procedure window by expanding Means, then Two Independent Means, then clicking on Confidence Interval, and then clicking on. You may then make the appropriate entries as listed below, or open Example by going to the File menu and choosing Open Example Template. Option Value Design Tab Solve For... Sample Size Interval Type... Two-Sided Confidence Level Group Allocation... Equal (N = N) Distance from Mean Diff to Limit(s)... 5 to 5 by S (Standard Deviation Group )... 3 S (Standard Deviation Group ) Std. Dev. Equality Assumption... Assume S and S are Unequal Annotated Output Click the Calculate button to perform the calculations and generate the following output. Numeric Results Numeric Results for Two-Sided Confidence Intervals for the Difference in Means The standard deviations are assumed to be Unknown and Unequal. Target Actual Dist from Dist from Confidence Mean Diff Mean Diff Level N N N to Limits to Limits S S (report continues) 47-7

8 References Ostle, B. and Malone, L.C Statistics in Research. Iowa State University Press. Ames, Iowa. Zar, Jerrold H Biostatistical Analysis (Second Edition). Prentice-Hall. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Report Definitions Confidence level is the proportion of confidence intervals (constructed with this same confidence level, sample size, etc.) that would contain the true difference in population means. N and N are the number of items sampled from each population. N is the total sample size, N + N. Target Dist from Mean Diff to Limit is the value of the distance that is entered into the procedure. Actual Dist from Mean Diff to Limit is the value of the distance that is obtained from the procedure. S and S are the standard deviations upon which the distance from mean difference to limit calculations are based. Summary Statements Group sample sizes of 380 and 380 produce a two-sided 95% confidence interval with a distance from the difference in means to the limits that is equal to when the estimated standard deviations are 3.00 and This report shows the calculated sample size for each of the scenarios. Plots Section These plots show the sample size of each group versus the precision for the two confidence levels. 47-8

9 Example Validation using Ostle and Malone Ostle and Malone (988) page 50 give an example of a precision calculation for a confidence interval for the difference between two means when the confidence level is 95%, the two standard deviations are 6.85 and , and the sample sizes are 7 and 6. The precision is (when df = 6.57, not 6). Setup This section presents the values of each of the parameters needed to run this example. First, from the PASS Home window, load the procedure window by expanding Means, then Two Independent Means, then clicking on Confidence Interval, and then clicking on. You may then make the appropriate entries as listed below, or open Example by going to the File menu and choosing Open Example Template. Option Value Design Tab Solve For... Sample Size Interval Type... Two-Sided Confidence Level Group Allocation... Enter N, solve for N N... 6 Distance from Mean Diff to Limit(s) S (Standard Deviation Group ) S (Standard Deviation Group ) Std. Dev. Equality Assumption... Assume S and S are Unequal Output Click the Calculate button to perform the calculations and generate the following output. Numeric Results Numeric Results for Two-Sided Confidence Intervals for the Difference in Means The standard deviations are assumed to be Unknown and Unequal. Target Actual Dist from Dist from Confidence Mean Diff Mean Diff Level N N N to Limits to Limits S S PASS also calculated the sample size in Group to be

10 Example 3 Validation using Zar Zar (984) page 3 gives an example of a precision calculation for a confidence interval for the difference between two means when the confidence level is 95%, the pooled standard deviation estimate is 0.706, and the sample sizes are 6 and 7. The precision is Setup This section presents the values of each of the parameters needed to run this example. First, from the PASS Home window, load the procedure window by expanding Means, then Two Independent Means, then clicking on Confidence Interval, and then clicking on. You may then make the appropriate entries as listed below, or open Example 3 by going to the File menu and choosing Open Example Template. Option Value Design Tab Solve For... Distance from Mean Difference to Limit Interval Type... Two-Sided Confidence Level Group Allocation... Enter N and N individually N (Sample Size Group )... 6 N (Sample Size Group )... 7 S (Standard Deviation Group ) S (Standard Deviation Group )... S Std. Dev. Equality Assumption... Assume S and S are Equal Output Click the Calculate button to perform the calculations and generate the following output. Numeric Results Numeric Results for Two-Sided Confidence Intervals for the Difference in Means The standard deviations are assumed to be Unknown and Equal. Dist from Confidence Mean Diff Level N N N to Limits S S PASS also calculates the precision to be

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