Family survival data can be used to estimate the degree of genetic and environmental contributions to the age at onset of a disease or of a specific event in life. The data can be modeled with a correlated frailty model in which the frailty variable accounts for the degree of kinship within the family. The heritability (degree of heredity) of the age at a specific event in life (or the onset of a disease) is usually defined as the proportion of variance of the survival age that is associated with genetic effects. If the survival age is (interval) censored, heritability as usually defined cannot be estimated. Instead, it is defined as the proportion of variance of the frailty associated with genetic effects. In this paper we describe a correlated frailty model to estimate the heritability and the degree of environmental effects on the age at which individuals contact a social worker for the first time and to test whether there is a difference between the survival functions of this age for twins and non-twins. © 2009 The Author(s).
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)