Landmark Estimation of Survival and Treatment Effects in Observational Studies

Published in: Lifetime Data Analysis, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on February 29, 2016

by Layla Parast, Beth Ann Griffin

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Clinical studies aimed at identifying effective treatments to reduce the risk of disease or death often require long term follow-up of participants in order to observe a sufficient number of events to precisely estimate the treatment effect. In such studies, observing the outcome of interest during follow-up may be difficult and high rates of censoring may be observed which often leads to reduced power when applying straightforward statistical methods developed for time-to-event data. Alternative methods have been proposed to take advantage of auxiliary information that may potentially improve efficiency when estimating marginal survival and improve power when testing for a treatment effect. Recently, Parast et al. (J Am Stat Assoc 109(505):384-394, 2014) proposed a landmark estimation procedure for the estimation of survival and treatment effects in a randomized clinical trial setting and demonstrated that significant gains in efficiency and power could be obtained by incorporating intermediate event information as well as baseline covariates. However, the procedure requires the assumption that the potential outcomes for each individual under treatment and control are independent of treatment group assignment which is unlikely to hold in an observational study setting. In this paper we develop the landmark estimation procedure for use in an observational setting. In particular, we incorporate inverse probability of treatment weights (IPTW) in the landmark estimation procedure to account for selection bias on observed baseline (pretreatment) covariates. We demonstrate that consistent estimates of survival and treatment effects can be obtained by using IPTW and that there is improved efficiency by using auxiliary intermediate event and baseline information. We compare our proposed estimates to those obtained using the Kaplan-Meier estimator, the original landmark estimation procedure, and the IPTW Kaplan-Meier estimator. We illustrate our resulting reduction in bias and gains in efficiency through a simulation study and apply our procedure to an AIDS dataset to examine the effect of previous antiretroviral therapy on survival.

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