Directed Acyclic Graph Assisted Method For Estimating Average Treatment Effect

Jingchao Sun, Scott Duncan, Subhadip Pal, Maiying Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Observational data, such as electronic clinical records and claims data, can prove invaluable for evaluating the Average Treatment Effect (ATE) and supporting decision-making, provided they are employed correctly. The Inverse Probability of Treatment Weighting (IPTW) method, based on propensity scores, has demonstrated remarkable efficacy in estimating ATE, assuming that the assumptions of exchangeability, consistency, and positivity are met. Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) offer a practical approach to assess the exchangeability assumption, which asserts that treatment assignment and potential outcomes are independent given a set of confounding variables that block all backdoor paths from treatment assignment to potential outcomes. To ensure a consistent ATE estimator, one can adjust for a minimally sufficient adjustment set of confounding variables that block all backdoor paths from treatment assignment to the outcome. To enhance the efficiency of ATE estimators, our proposal involves incorporating both the minimally sufficient adjustment set of confounding variables and predictors into the propensity score model. Extensive simulations were conducted to evaluate the performance of propensity score-based IPTW methods in estimating ATE when different sets of covariates were included in the propensity score models. The simulation results underscored the significance of including the minimally sufficient adjustment set of confounding variables along with predictors in the propensity score models to obtain a consistent and efficient ATE estimator. We applied this proposed method to investigate whether tracheostomy was causally associated with in-hospital infant mortality, utilizing the 2016 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids’ Inpatient Database. The estimated ATE was found to be approximately 2.30%–2.46% with p-value >0.05.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Causal inference
  • Directed acyclic graph
  • Marginal structural model
  • Propensity score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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