Improved two-stage estimation to adjust for treatment switching in randomised trials: g-estimation to address time-dependent confounding

Nicholas Latimer*, IR White, Kate M Tilling, Uwe Siebert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

In oncology trials, control group patients often switch onto the experimental treatment during follow-up, usually after disease progression. In this case, an intention-to-treat analysis will not address the policy question of interest – that of whether the new treatment represents an effective and cost-effective use of health care resources, compared to the standard treatment. Rank preserving structural failure time models (RPSFTM), inverse probability of censoring weights (IPCW) and two-stage estimation (TSE) have often been used to adjust for switching to inform treatment reimbursement policy decisions. TSE has been applied using a simple approach (TSEsimp), assuming no time-dependent confounding between the time of disease progression and the time of switch. This is problematic if there is a delay between progression and switch. In this paper we introduce TSEgest, which uses structural nested models and g-estimation to account for time-dependent confounding, and compare it to TSEsimp, RPSFTM and IPCW. We simulated scenarios where control group patients could switch onto the experimental treatment with and without time-dependent confounding being present. We varied switching proportions, treatment effects and censoring proportions. We assessed adjustment methods according to their estimation of control group restricted mean survival times that would have been observed in the absence of switching. All methods performed well in scenarios with no time-dependent confounding. TSEgest and RPSFTM continued to perform well in scenarios with time-dependent confounding, but TSEsimp resulted in substantial bias. IPCW also performed well in scenarios with time-dependent confounding, except when inverse probability weights were high in relation to the size of the group being subjected to weighting, which occurred when there was a combination of modest sample size and high switching proportions. TSEgest represents a useful addition to the collection of methods that may be used to adjust for treatment switching in trials in order
to address policy-relevant questions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalStatistical Methods in Medical Research
Early online date30 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Treatment switching
  • treatment crossover
  • survival analysis
  • overall survival
  • oncology
  • health technology assessment
  • time-to-event outcomes
  • prediction
  • time-dependent confounding
  • structural nested models
  • gestimation
  • counterfactual

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