Prognostic models and the propensity score.
ABSTRACT Subjects in observational studies of exposure effects have not been randomized to exposure groups and may therefore differ systematically with regard to variables related to exposure and/or outcome. To obtain unbiased estimates and tests of exposure effects one needs to adjust for these variables. A common method is adjustment via a parametric model incorporating all known prognostic variables. Rosenbaum and Rubin propose adjustment by the conditional exposure probability given a set of covariates which they call the propensity score. They show that, at any value of the propensity score, covariates are on average balanced between exposure groups. Thus matching on the propensity score leads to unbiased estimators and tests of exposure effect. However, the validity of the method depends on knowing the exposure probability. This quantity is usually not known in observational studies and needs to be estimated.
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ABSTRACT: To evaluate the effectiveness of a work therapy intervention, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensated Work Therapy program (CWT), in the treatment of patients suffering from chronic war-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and to demonstrate methods for using outcomes monitoring data to screen previously untested treatments. Baseline and four-month follow-up questionnaires administered to 3,076 veterans treated in 52 specialized VA inpatient programs for treatment of PTSD at facilities that also had CWT programs. Altogether 78 (2.5 percent) of these patients participated in CWT during the four months after discharge. The study used a pre-post nonequivalent control group design. Questionnaires documented PTSD symptoms, violent behavior, alcohol and drug use, employment status, and medical status at the time of program entry and four months after discharge from the hospital to the community. Administrative databases were used to identify participants in the CWT program. Propensity scores were used to match CWT participants and other patients, and hierarchical linear modeling was used to evaluate differences in outcomes between treatment groups on seven outcomes. The propensity scaling method created groups that were not significantly different on any measure. No greater improvement was observed among CWT participants than among other patients on any of seven outcome measures. Substantively this study suggests that work therapy, as currently practiced in VA, is not an effective intervention, at least in the short term, for chronic, war-related PTSD. Methodologically it illustrates the use of outcomes monitoring data to screen previously untested treatments and the use of propensity scoring and hierarchical linear modeling to adjust for selection biases in observational studies.Health Services Research 05/2000; 35(1 Pt 1):133-51. · 2.49 Impact Factor
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