In epidemiology, we often deal with lots of factors associated with disease. This multitude of factors makes plots of effect sizes (often hazard ratios) of individual factors confusing. Accepting some oversimplification, factors can for the most part be reasonably assigned to some group like nutritional, lifestyle, social, psychological, demographic, and maybe even subgroups like e.g. macro-/micronutrients for nutritional factors.
I am searching for a plot that gives an overview of the effects within these groups while facilitating a visual comparison of size and distribution of effects within and between groups.
I have tried
- small multiples of histograms/smoothed density estimates and parallel boxplots of HRs in each group
- forest-plot-like plots showing effects sizes and their CIs as points and horizontal segments and groups separated by horizontal lines
These ad-hoc approaches are not optimal. The first discards most of the information on the level of the individual factor, the second is too detailed on that level. Neither provides real subgrouping. Neither provides an informative visual comparison of distribution AND size of effects within groups.
Is there something better?