The use of Prognostic Scores for Causal Inference with General Treatment Regimes

Nguyen TL, Debray TP

In non-randomised studies, inferring causal effects requires appropriate methods for addressing confounding bias. Although it is common to adopt propensity score analysis to this purpose, prognostic score analysis has recently been proposed as an alternative strategy. Whilst both approaches were originally introduced to estimate causal effects for binary interventions, the theory of propensity score has since been extended to the case of general treatment regimes. Indeed, many treatments are not assigned in a binary fashion, and require a certain extent of dosing. Hence, researchers may often be interested in estimating treatment effects across multiple exposures. To the best of our knowledge, the prognostic score analysis has not been yet generalised to this case. In this article, we describe the theory of prognostic scores for causal inference with general treatment regimes. Our methods can be applied to compare multiple treatments using non-randomised data, a topic of great relevance in contemporary evaluations of clinical interventions. We propose estimators for the average treatment effects in different populations of interest, the validity of which is assessed through a series of simulations. Finally, we present an illustrative case in which we estimate the effect of the delay to Aspirin administration on a composite outcome of death or dependence at 6 months in stroke patients.

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