ABSTRACT: We propose an interaction tree (IT) procedure to optimize the subgroup analysis in comparative studies that involve censored survival times. The proposed method recursively partitions the data into two subsets that show the greatest interaction with the treatment, which results in a number of objectively defined subgroups: in some of them the treatment effect is prominent while in others the treatment may have a negligible or even negative effect. The resultant tree structure can be used to explore the overall interaction between treatment and other covariates and help identify and describe possible target populations on which an experimental treatment demonstrates desired efficacy. We follow the standard CART (Breiman, et al., 1984) methodology to develop the interaction tree structure. Variable importance information is extracted via random forests of interaction trees. Both simulated experiments and an analysis of the primary billiary cirrhosis (PBC) data are provided for evaluation and illustration of the proposed procedure.
The International Journal of Biostatistics 01/2008; 4(1):Article 2. · 1.28 Impact Factor