Posterior predictive treatment assignment methods for causal inference in the context of time-varying treatments


© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2020. Marginal structural models (MSM) with inverse probability weighting (IPW) are used to estimate causal effects of time-varying treatments, but can result in erratic finite-sample performance when there is low overlap in covariate distributions across different treatment patterns. Modifications to IPW which target the average treatment effect (ATE) estimand either introduce bias or rely on unverifiable parametric assumptions and extrapolation. This paper extends an alternate estimand, the ATE on the overlap population (ATO) which is estimated on a sub-population with a reasonable probability of receiving alternate treatment patterns in time-varying treatment settings. To estimate the ATO within an MSM framework, this paper extends a stochastic pruning method based on the posterior predictive treatment assignment (PPTA) (Zigler, C. M., and M. Cefalu. 2017. “Posterior Predictive Treatment Assignment for Estimating Causal Effects with Limited Overlap.“eprint arXiv:1710.08749.) as well as a weighting analog (Li, F., K. L. Morgan, and A. M. Zaslavsky. 2018. “Balancing Covariates via Propensity Score Weighting.“Journal of the American Statistical Association 113: 390-400, to the time-varying treatment setting. Simulations demonstrate the performance of these extensions compared against IPW and stabilized weighting with regard to bias, efficiency, and coverage. Finally, an analysis using these methods is performed on Medicare beneficiaries residing across 18,480 ZIP codes in the U.S. to evaluate the effect of coal-fired power plant emissions exposure on ischemic heart disease (IHD) hospitalization, accounting for seasonal patterns that lead to change in treatment over time.

Epidemiologic Methods