The International Journal of Biostatistics
Ed. by Chambaz, Antoine / Hubbard, Alan E. / van der Laan, Mark J.
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Principal Stratification and Attribution Prohibition: Good Ideas Taken Too Far
1University of Pennsylvania
Citation Information: The International Journal of Biostatistics. Volume 7, Issue 1, Pages 1–22, ISSN (Online) 1557-4679, DOI: 10.2202/1557-4679.1367, September 2011
- Published Online:
Pearl’s article provides a useful springboard for discussing further the benefits and drawbacks of principal stratification and the associated discomfort with attributing effects to post-treatment variables. The basic insights of the approach are important: pay close attention to modification of treatment effects by variables not observable before treatment decisions are made, and be careful in attributing effects to variables when counterfactuals are ill-defined. These insights have often been taken too far in many areas of application of the approach, including instrumental variables, censoring by death, and surrogate outcomes. A novel finding is that the usual principal stratification estimand in the setting of censoring by death is by itself of little practical value in estimating intervention effects.
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