Bayesian Mixture Modeling Approaches for Intermediate Variables and Causal Inference

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2010

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This thesis examines causal inference related topics involving intermediate variables, and uses Bayesian methodologies to advance analysis capabilities in these areas. First, joint modeling of outcome variables with intermediate variables is considered in the context of birthweight and censored gestational age analyses. The proposed methodology provides improved inference capabilities for birthweight and gestational age, avoids post-treatment selection bias problems associated with conditional on gestational age analyses, and appropriately assesses the uncertainty associated with censored gestational age. Second, principal stratification methodology for settings where causal inference analysis requires appropriate adjustment of intermediate variables is extended to observational settings with binary treatments and binary intermediate variables. This is done by uncovering the structural pathways of unmeasured confounding affecting principal stratification analysis and directly incorporating them into a model based sensitivity analysis methodology. Demonstration focuses on a study of the efficacy of influenza vaccination in elderly populations. Third, flexibility, interpretability, and capability of principal stratification analyses for continuous intermediate variables are improved by replacing the current fully parametric methodologies with semiparametric Bayesian alternatives. This presentation is one of the first uses of nonparametric techniques in causal inference analysis,

and opens a connection between these two fields. Demonstration focuses on two studies, one involving a cholesterol reduction drug, and one examine the effect of physical activity on cardiovascular disease as it relates to body mass index.

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Schwartz, Scott Lee (2010). Bayesian Mixture Modeling Approaches for Intermediate Variables and Causal Inference. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/2983.

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