In survival analysis, the hazard ratio (HR) is the ratio of the hazard rates corresponding to the conditions described by two sets of explanatory variables. For example, in a drug study, the treated population may die at twice the rate per unit time as the control population. The hazard ratio would be 2, indicating higher hazard of death from the treatment. Or in another study, men receiving the same treatment may suffer a certain complication ten times more frequently per unit time than women, giving a hazard ratio of 10.
Hazard ratios differ from relative risk ratios in that the latter are cumulative over an entire study, using a defined endpoint, while the former represent instantaneous risk over the study time period, or some subset thereof. Hazard ratios suffer somewhat less from selection bias with respect to the endpoints chosen, and can indicate risks that happen before the endpoint.
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