# Johnson-Neyman for meta analysis

In applied research, we typically look at moderation effect of a moderator on the relationship between a predictor and an outcome variable. However, looking at the interaction term alone is very misleading. Hence, researcher typically employ the Johnson-Neyman technique in probing the moderation effect. This technique helps find the region where the predictor effect is significant.

Even though interactions package in R is very versatile that it can work with pretty much every model for probing the interaction effect, it couldn’t play well with metafor package (for more details on moderation). Hence, we have to write a custom function for this purpose.

A little reminder of the moderation effect

$Y = b_1 X+ b_2 W + b_3 XW$

Johnson-Neyman finds the values of the moderators $$W$$ such that the p-value of the conditional effect of the predictor is equal to the level of significance $$\alpha$$

$t_{crit} = \frac{b_1 + b_3 W}{\sqrt{s^2_{b1} + 2 Ws_{b_1b_3} + W^2 s^2_{b_3}}}$

The solution for $$W$$ is

$W = \frac{-2(t_{crit}^2 s_{b_1b_3} - b_1b_3)\pm \sqrt{(2t^2_{crit}s_{b_1b_3}- 2b_1 b_3)^2-4(t_{crit}^2s^2_{b_3} - b_3^2)(t_{crit}^2 s^2_{b_1}-b_1^2)}}{2(t^2_{crit}s^2_{b_3}-b^2_3)}$

To implement the custom function, I model the code after Marko Bachl

To get the Johnson-Neyman signficance area

jnt = function(.rma.mv, predictor, moderator, alpha = .05) {
require(stringi)
library(tidyverse)

# get coefficient for the predictor
b1 = .rma.mv$b[predictor, 1] # get coefficient for the interaction term b3 = .rma.mv$b[paste0(predictor, ":", moderator), 1]

# standard error for the predictor term
se_b1 = .rma.mv$se[which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == predictor)]

# standard error for the interaction term
se_b3 = .rma.mv$se[which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == paste0(predictor, ":", moderator))]

# covariance for the predictor and the interaction term
COV_b1b3 = .rma.mv$vb[which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == predictor), which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == paste0(predictor, ":", moderator))] # the t-critical value t_crit = qt(1 - alpha / 2, df.residual(.rma.mv)) # see Bauer & Curran, 2005 a = t_crit ^ 2 * se_b3 ^ 2 - b3 ^ 2 b = 2 * (t_crit ^ 2 * COV_b1b3 - b1 * b3) c = t_crit ^ 2 * se_b1 ^ 2 - b1 ^ 2 jn = c((-b - sqrt(b ^ 2 - 4 * a * c)) / (2 * a), (-b + sqrt(b ^ 2 - 4 * a * c)) / (2 * a)) JN = sort(unname(jn)) # see whether it's inside the two numbers or outside if (length(JN) != 0){ # randomly pick a number between the two cutoffs test_num <- runif(1, JN, JN) test_theta = b1 + test_num * b3 test_se_theta = sqrt(se_b1 ^ 2 + 2 * test_num * COV_b1b3 + test_num ^ 2 * se_b3 ^ 2) test.ci.lo_theta = test_theta - qt(1 - alpha / 2, df.residual(.rma.mv)) * test_se_theta test.ci.hi_theta = test_theta + qt(1 - alpha / 2, df.residual(.rma.mv)) * test_se_theta if (0 %in% c(test.ci.lo_theta:test.ci.hi_theta)){ print("inside the range") } else { print("outside the range") } } return(JN) rm(.rma.mv) } If the results are 0, 1, 2, then the whole range of the predictors are significant. theta_plot = function(.rma.mv, predictor, moderator, alpha = .05, jn = F) { require(dplyr) require(ggplot2) theme_set(theme_minimal()) require(stringi) .data = tibble( # get coefficient for the predictor b1 = .rma.mv$b[predictor, 1],
# get coefficient for the interaction term
b3 = .rma.mv$b[paste0(predictor, ":", moderator), 1], Z = quantile(.rma.mv$X[, moderator], seq(0, 1, .01)),

theta = b1 + Z * b3,

# standard error for the predictor term
se_b1 = .rma.mv$se[which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == predictor)],

# standard error for the interaction term
se_b3 = .rma.mv$se[which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == paste0(predictor, ":", moderator))],

# covariance for the predictor and the interaction term
COV_b1b3 = .rma.mv$vb[which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == predictor), which(rownames(summary(.rma.mv)$b) == paste0(predictor, ":", moderator))], se_theta = sqrt(se_b1 ^ 2 + 2 * Z * COV_b1b3 + Z ^ 2 * se_b3 ^ 2), ci.lo_theta = theta - qt(1 - alpha / 2, df.residual(.rma.mv)) * se_theta, ci.hi_theta = theta + qt(1 - alpha / 2, df.residual(.rma.mv)) * se_theta ) if (jn) { JN = jnt( .rma.mv = .rma.mv, predictor = predictor, moderator = moderator, alpha = alpha ) JN_lines = geom_vline(xintercept = JN, linetype = 2) JN_regions = ifelse(length(JN) == 0, "no significance regions", paste(round(JN, 2), collapse = "; ")) Xlab = paste0(moderator, " (JN Significance Regions: ", JN_regions, ")") } else { Xlab = moderator JN_lines = NULL } .data %>% ggplot(aes(x = Z, y = theta)) + geom_ribbon(aes(ymin = ci.lo_theta, ymax = ci.hi_theta), fill = "grey70") + geom_line() + ggtitle(paste( "Conditional Effect of", predictor, "as function of", moderator )) + geom_hline(yintercept = 0, linetype = 2) + labs(x = Xlab, y = expression(theta)) + JN_lines + xlim(min(.rma.mv$X[, moderator]), max(.rma.mv\$X[, moderator]))
}

Let’s try it on a model

Note: both the moderator and the predictor must be continuous

library(metafor)
mod <- rma.mv(yi, vi, mods = ~ year * pubstatus, random = ~ 1 | study/esid, data= dat.assink2016)
summary(mod)
##
## Multivariate Meta-Analysis Model (k = 100; method: REML)
##
##   logLik  Deviance       AIC       BIC      AICc
## -66.6051  133.2102  145.2102  160.5963  146.1540
##
## Variance Components:
##
##             estim    sqrt  nlvls  fixed      factor
## sigma^2.1  0.1143  0.3381     17     no       study
## sigma^2.2  0.1138  0.3373    100     no  study/esid
##
## Test for Residual Heterogeneity:
## QE(df = 96) = 447.7313, p-val < .0001
##
## Test of Moderators (coefficients 2:4):
## QM(df = 3) = 9.8164, p-val = 0.0202
##
## Model Results:
##
##                 estimate      se     zval    pval    ci.lb    ci.ub
## intrcpt           0.6985  0.2621   2.6655  0.0077   0.1849   1.2121  **
## year             -0.0928  0.0464  -1.9990  0.0456  -0.1837  -0.0018   *
## pubstatus        -0.3308  0.2826  -1.1704  0.2418  -0.8847   0.2231
## year:pubstatus    0.0608  0.0499   1.2170  0.2236  -0.0371   0.1586
##
## ---
## Signif. codes:  0 '***' 0.001 '**' 0.01 '*' 0.05 '.' 0.1 ' ' 1
jnt(mod, predictor = "year", moderator = "pubstatus")
##  "outside the range"
##  -0.02071889  0.94999771
theta_plot(mod, predictor = "year", moderator = "pubstatus", jn = T)
##  "outside the range" Then we interpret that the impact of year on the outcome variable is only significant when the publication status is greater than 0.95 or less than -0.02 (but this is not possible because the lower limit is 0). ##### Mike Nguyen, PhD
###### Visitng Scholar

My research interests include marketing, and social science.