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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

Marshall Joffe
Published Online: 2011-09-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1557-4679.1367

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.

Keywords: principal stratification; causal inference

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Published Online: 2011-09-14

Citation Information: The International Journal of Biostatistics, ISSN (Online) 1557-4679, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1557-4679.1367.

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