Background: The new subgroup screening tool "subscreen" aims to understand the unclear and complex association between socioeconomic status (SES) and childhood allergy. This software R package has been successfully used in clinical trials but not in large population-based studies.
Objective: To screen and identify subgrouping factors explaining their impact on the association between SES and respiratory allergies in childhood and youth.
Methods: Using the national German childhood and youth survey dataset (KiGGS Wave 2), we included 56 suspected subgrouping factors to investigate the association between SES (low vs. high) and allergic rhinitis and/or asthma in an exploratory manner. The package enabled a comprehensive overview of odds ratios when considering the SES impact per subgroup and analogously all disease proportions per subgroup.
Result: Among the 56 candidate factors, striking subgrouping factors were identified; e.g., if mothers were younger and in the low SES group, their children had a higher risk of asthma. In addition children of the teen's age were associated with increased risks in the low SES group. For the crude proportions, factors such as (parental) smoking or having had no "contact with farm animals" were identified as strong risk factors for rhinitis.
Significance: The "subscreen" package enabled the detection of notable subgroups for further investigations exemplarily for similar epidemiological research questions.