Statistical matching and subclassification with a continuous dose: characterization, algorithm, and application to a health outcomes study


Subclassification and matching are often used to adjust for observed covariates in observational studies; however, they are largely restricted to relatively simple study designs with a binary treatment. One important exception is Lu et al.(2001), who considered optimal pair matching with a continuous treatment dose. In this article, we propose two criteria for optimal subclassification/full matching based on subclass homogeneity with a continuous treatment dose, and propose an efficient polynomial-time algorithm that is guaranteed to find an optimal subclassification with respect to one criterion and serves as a 2-approximation algorithm for the other criterion. We discuss how to incorporate treatment dose and use appropriate penalties to control the number of subclasses in the design. Via extensive simulations, we systematically examine the performance of our proposed method, and demonstrate that combining our proposed subclassification scheme with regression adjustment helps reduce model dependence for parametric causal inference with a continuous treatment dose. We illustrate the new design and how to conduct randomization-based statistical inference under the new design using Medicare and Medicaid claims data to study the effect of transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) during CABG surgery on patients' 30-day mortality rate.

Annals of Applied Statistics (just accepted)
Bo Zhang
Bo Zhang
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics

My research interests include design of observational studies, instrumental variables, application of causal inference in medicine and applied statistics in general.