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Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Donna K. McClish


Symmetry in biological systems is the occurrence of an event on both sides of the system. The term bilateralism was introduced to represent this phenomenon, and it was defined as the conditional co-occurrence of two events given that at least at one of them has occurred. This phenomenon is highly associated with the prevalence of each of the events. Two parameters were developed to evaluate the presence of this phenomenon, testing whether events co-occur with higher probability than would be expected by chance. Nonparametric confidence intervals were constructed using the bootstrap percentile method. These non parametric confidence intervals were used in testing the null hypothesis of no bilateralism.A simulation study was performed to examine the properties of the two bilateralism parameters' estimates. The size and power of the tests of bilateralism were examined under a variety of sample sizes and prevalences of the two events. The simulation study showed that both parameter estimates have similar properties, and the tests have similar size and power. The power of the test was affected by the prevalence of either event, the differences in the prevalences, the sample size and by number of events that occur simultaneously. The methodology of testing for bilateralism was applied on data from the Pain in Sickle Cell Epidemiology Study (PiSCES). This study collected up to 6 months worth of daily diaries about pain and medical utilization from patients with sickle cell disease. Each diary recorded the body site and side where pain was experienced over the past 24 hours. The sample consists of 119 subjects who completed at least 50 daily pain diaries (reference). Information about the subjects age, gender and sickle cell genotype were also available. Nine body sites (5 upper peripheral, and 4 lower peripheral site) were analyzed to test for bilateralism. Bilateralism was tested for each subject and each site separately. The associations of prevalence of bilateralism on each site, and percentages of sites that hurt bilaterally with age, gender and genotype where studied.The results show a high prevalence of bilateral pain among sickle cell patients at all sites. Age gender and genotype were associated with higher prevalence in bilateral pain in some, but not all sites. The percentage of sites that have bilateral pain is also associated with the number of sites that have pain.


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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008