Landmark Estimation of Survival and Treatment Effect in a Randomized Clinical Trial

Published in: Journal of the American Statistical Association, v. 109, no. 505, Mar. 2014, p. 384-394

Posted on on March 01, 2014

by Layla Parast, Lu Tian, Tianxi Cai

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In many studies with a survival outcome, it is often not feasible to fully observe the primary event of interest. This often leads to heavy censoring and thus, difficulty in efficiently estimating survival or comparing survival rates between two groups. In certain diseases, baseline covariates and the event time of nonfatal intermediate events may be associated with overall survival. In these settings, incorporating such additional information may lead to gains in efficiency in estimation of survival and testing for a difference in survival between two treatment groups. If gains in efficiency can be achieved, it may then be possible to decrease the sample size of patients required for a study to achieve a particular power level or decrease the duration of the study. Most existing methods for incorporating intermediate events and covariates to predict survival focus on estimation of relative risk parameters and/or the joint distribution of events under semiparametric models. However, in practice, these model assumptions may not hold and hence may lead to biased estimates of the marginal survival. In this article, we propose a seminonparametric two-stage procedure to estimate and compare t-year survival rates by incorporating intermediate event information observed before some landmark time, which serves as a useful approach to overcome semicompeting risk issues. In a randomized clinical trial setting, we further improve efficiency through an additional calibration step. Simulation studies demonstrate substantial potential gains in efficiency in terms of estimation and power. We illustrate our proposed procedures using an AIDS Clinical Trial Protocol 175 dataset by estimating survival and examining the difference in survival between two treatment groups: zidovudine and zidovudine plus zalcitabine. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

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