Investigating hospital heterogeneity with a competing risks frailty model.
ABSTRACT: Survival analysis is used in the medical field to identify the effect of predictive variables on time to a specific event. Generally, not all variation of survival time can be explained by observed covariates. The effect of unobserved variables on the risk of a patient is called frailty. In multicenter studies, the unobserved center effect can induce frailty on its patients, which can lead to selection bias over time when ignored. For this reason, it is common practice in multicenter studies to include a random frailty term modeling center effect. In a more complex event structure, more than one type of event is possible. Independent frailty variables representing center effect can be incorporated in the model for each competing event. However, in the medical context, events representing disease progression are likely related and correlation is missed when assuming frailties to be independent. In this work, an additive gamma frailty model to account for correlation between frailties in a competing risks model is proposed, to model frailties at center level. Correlation indicates a common center effect on both events and measures how closely the risks are related. Estimation of the model using the expectation-maximization algorithm is illustrated. The model is applied to a data set from a multicenter clinical trial on breast cancer from the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC trial 10854). Hospitals are compared by employing empirical Bayes estimates methodology together with corresponding confidence intervals.
Project description:Frailty models are useful for measuring unobserved heterogeneity in risk of failures across clusters, providing cluster-specific risk prediction. In a frailty model, the latent frailties shared by members within a cluster are assumed to act multiplicatively on the hazard function. In order to obtain parameter and frailty variate estimates, we consider the hierarchical likelihood (H-likelihood) approach (Ha, Lee and Song, 2001. Hierarchical-likelihood approach for frailty models. Biometrika 88, 233-243) in which the latent frailties are treated as "parameters" and estimated jointly with other parameters of interest. We find that the H-likelihood estimators perform well when the censoring rate is low, however, they are substantially biased when the censoring rate is moderate to high. In this paper, we propose a simple and easy-to-implement bias correction method for the H-likelihood estimators under a shared frailty model. We also extend the method to a multivariate frailty model, which incorporates complex dependence structure within clusters. We conduct an extensive simulation study and show that the proposed approach performs very well for censoring rates as high as 80%. We also illustrate the method with a breast cancer data set. Since the H-likelihood is the same as the penalized likelihood function, the proposed bias correction method is also applicable to the penalized likelihood estimators.
Project description:We propose a Bayesian semiparametric joint regression model for a recurrent event process and survival time. Assuming independent latent subject frailties, we define marginal models for the recurrent event process intensity and survival distribution as functions of the subject's frailty and baseline covariates. A robust Bayesian model, called Joint-DP, is obtained by assuming a Dirichlet process for the frailty distribution. We present a simulation study that compares posterior estimates under the Joint-DP model to a Bayesian joint model with lognormal frailties, a frequentist joint model, and marginal models for either the recurrent event process or survival time. The simulations show that the Joint-DP model does a good job of correcting for treatment assignment bias, and has favorable estimation reliability and accuracy compared with the alternative models. The Joint-DP model is applied to analyze an observational dataset from esophageal cancer patients treated with chemo-radiation, including the times of recurrent effusions of fluid to the heart or lungs, survival time, prognostic covariates, and radiation therapy modality.
Project description:In the analysis of semi-competing risks data interest lies in estimation and inference with respect to a so-called non-terminal event, the observation of which is subject to a terminal event. Multi-state models are commonly used to analyse such data, with covariate effects on the transition/intensity functions typically specified via the Cox model and dependence between the non-terminal and terminal events specified, in part, by a unit-specific shared frailty term. To ensure identifiability, the frailties are typically assumed to arise from a parametric distribution, specifically a Gamma distribution with mean 1.0 and variance, say, ?2. When the frailty distribution is misspecified, however, the resulting estimator is not guaranteed to be consistent, with the extent of asymptotic bias depending on the discrepancy between the assumed and true frailty distributions. In this paper, we propose a novel class of transformation models for semi-competing risks analysis that permit the non-parametric specification of the frailty distribution. To ensure identifiability, the class restricts to parametric specifications of the transformation and the error distribution; the latter are flexible, however, and cover a broad range of possible specifications. We also derive the semi-parametric efficient score under the complete data setting and propose a non-parametric score imputation method to handle right censoring; consistency and asymptotic normality of the resulting estimators is derived and small-sample operating characteristics evaluated via simulation. Although the proposed semi-parametric transformation model and non-parametric score imputation method are motivated by the analysis of semi-competing risks data, they are broadly applicable to any analysis of multivariate time-to-event outcomes in which a unit-specific shared frailty is used to account for correlation. Finally, the proposed model and estimation procedures are applied to a study of hospital readmission among patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Project description:We propose a novel model for hierarchical time-to-event data, for example, healthcare data in which patients are grouped by their healthcare provider. The most common model for this kind of data is the Cox proportional hazard model, with frailties that are common to patients in the same group and given a parametric distribution. We relax the parametric frailty assumption in this class of models by using a non-parametric discrete distribution. This improves the flexibility of the model by allowing very general frailty distributions and enables the data to be clustered into groups of healthcare providers with a similar frailty. A tailored Expectation-Maximization algorithm is proposed for estimating the model parameters, methods of model selection are compared, and the code is assessed in simulation studies. This model is particularly useful for administrative data in which there are a limited number of covariates available to explain the heterogeneity associated with the risk of the event. We apply the model to a clinical administrative database recording times to hospital readmission, and related covariates, for patients previously admitted once to hospital for heart failure, and we explore latent clustering structures among healthcare providers.
Project description:Environmental health and disease mapping studies are often concerned with the evaluation of the combined effect of various socio-demographic and behavioral factors, and environmental exposures on time-to-events of interest, such as death of individuals, organisms or plants. In such studies, estimation of the hazard function is often of interest. In addition to known explanatory variables, the hazard function maybe subject to spatial/geographical variations, such that proximally located regions may experience similar hazards than regions that are distantly located. A popular approach for handling this type of spatially-correlated time-to-event data is the Cox's Proportional Hazards (PH) regression model with spatial frailties. However, the PH assumption poses a major practical challenge, as it entails that the effects of the various explanatory variables remain constant over time. This assumption is often unrealistic, for instance, in studies with long follow-ups where the effects of some exposures on the hazard may vary drastically over time. Our goal in this paper is to offer a flexible semiparametric additive hazards model (AH) with spatial frailties. Our proposed model allows both the frailties as well as the regression coefficients to be time-varying, thus relaxing the proportionality assumption. Our estimation framework is Bayesian, powered by carefully tailored posterior sampling strategies via Markov chain Monte Carlo techniques. We apply the model to a dataset on prostate cancer survival from the US state of Louisiana to illustrate its advantages.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To investigate the association between recurrent AIDS-defining events and a semicompeting risk of death in patients with advanced, multidrug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus infection and to identify individuals at increased risk for these events using a joint frailty model. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING:Three hundred sixty-eight patients with antiretroviral treatment failure in the Options in Management of Antiretrovirals Trial randomized to two antiretroviral treatment strategies using a 2 × 2 factorial design, intensive vs. standard and interruption vs. continuation, and followed for development of AIDS-defining events and death. RESULTS:Participants were heterogeneous for risk of AIDS-defining events and death (P < 0.001), and AIDS-defining events were strongly associated with death (P < 0.001), irrespective of treatment. The frailty model was used to classify individuals into high- and low-risk groups based on unobserved heterogeneity. Low-risk individuals were unlikely to die (0%) or have an AIDS-defining event (<4%), whereas high-risk individuals had event rates approaching 70%. About one-third of high-risk individuals had accelerated mortality, all who died before experiencing an AIDS-defining event. High-risk was associated with being immunocompromised and higher predicted 5-year mortality. CONCLUSION:The joint frailty model permits classification of individuals into risk groups based on unobserved heterogeneity that may be identifiable based on observed covariates, providing advantages over the traditional Cox model.
Project description:Multivariate survival data are frequently encountered in biomedical applications in the form of clustered failures (or recurrent events data). A popular way of analyzing such data is by using shared frailty models, which assume that the proportional hazards assumption holds conditional on an unobserved cluster-specific random effect. Such models are often incorporated in more complicated joint models in survival analysis. If the random effect distribution has finite expectation, then the conditional proportional hazards assumption does not carry over to the marginal models. It has been shown that, for univariate data, this makes it impossible to distinguish between the presence of unobserved heterogeneity (eg, due to missing covariates) and marginal nonproportional hazards. We show that time-dependent covariate effects may falsely appear as evidence in favor of a frailty model also in the case of clustered failures or recurrent events data, when the cluster size or number of recurrent events is small. When true unobserved heterogeneity is present, the presence of nonproportional hazards leads to overestimating the frailty effect. We show that this phenomenon is somewhat mitigated as the cluster size grows. We carry out a simulation study to assess the behavior of test statistics and estimators for frailty models in such contexts. The gamma, inverse Gaussian, and positive stable shared frailty models are contrasted using a novel software implementation for estimating semiparametric shared frailty models. Two main questions are addressed in the contexts of clustered failures and recurrent events: whether covariates with a time-dependent effect may appear as indication of unobserved heterogeneity and whether the additional presence of unobserved heterogeneity can be detected in this case. Finally, the practical implications are illustrated in a real-world data analysis example.
Project description:We investigate different primary efficacy analysis approaches for a 2-armed randomized clinical trial when interest is focused on a time to event primary outcome that is subject to a competing risk. We extend the work of Friedlin and Korn (2005) by considering estimation as well as testing and by simulating the primary and competing events' times from both a cause-specific hazards model as well as a joint subdistribution-cause-specific hazards model. We show that the cumulative incidence function can provide useful prognostic information for a particular patient but is not advisable for the primary efficacy analysis. Instead, it is preferable to fit a Cox model for the primary event which treats the competing event as an independent censoring. This is reasonably robust for controlling type I error and treatment effect bias with respect to the true primary and competing events' cause-specific hazards model, even when there is a shared, moderately prognostic, unobserved baseline frailty for the primary and competing events in that model. However, when it is plausible that a strongly prognostic frailty exists, combining the primary and competing events into a composite event should be considered. Finally, when there is an a priori interest in having both the primary and competing events in the primary analysis, we compare a bivariate approach for establishing overall treatment efficacy to the composite event approach. The ideas are illustrated by analyzing the Women's Health Initiative clinical trials sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Project description:In an observational study of the effect of a treatment on a time-to-event outcome, a major problem is accounting for confounding because of unknown or unmeasured factors. We propose including covariates in a Cox model that can partially account for an unknown time-independent frailty that is related to starting or stopping treatment as well as the outcome of interest. These covariates capture the times at which treatment is started or stopped and so are called treatment choice (TC) covariates. Three such models are developed: first, an interval TC model that assumes a very general form for the respective hazard functions of starting treatment, stopping treatment, and the outcome of interest and second, a parametric TC model that assumes that the log hazard functions for starting treatment, stopping treatment, and the outcome event include frailty as an additive term. Finally, a hybrid TC model that combines attributes from the parametric and interval TC models. As compared with an ordinary Cox model, the TC models are shown to substantially reduce the bias of the estimated hazard ratio for treatment when data are simulated from a realistic Cox model with residual confounding due to the unobserved frailty. The simulations also indicate that the bias decreases or levels off as the sample size increases. A TC model is illustrated by analyzing the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study of hormone replacement for post-menopausal women. Published 2017. This article has been contributed to by US Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA.
Project description:Recurrent event data arise frequently in various fields such as biomedical sciences, public health, engineering, and social sciences. In many instances, the observation of the recurrent event process can be stopped by the occurrence of a correlated failure event, such as treatment failure and death. In this article, we propose a joint scale-change model for the recurrent event process and the failure time, where a shared frailty variable is used to model the association between the two types of outcomes. In contrast to the popular Cox-type joint modeling approaches, the regression parameters in the proposed joint scale-change model have marginal interpretations. The proposed approach is robust in the sense that no parametric assumption is imposed on the distribution of the unobserved frailty and that we do not need the strong Poisson-type assumption for the recurrent event process. We establish consistency and asymptotic normality of the proposed semiparametric estimators under suitable regularity conditions. To estimate the corresponding variances of the estimators, we develop a computationally efficient resampling-based procedure. Simulation studies and an analysis of hospitalization data from the Danish Psychiatric Central Register illustrate the performance of the proposed method.