Estimation with Interval Censored Data in Longitudinal Studies


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In biostatistical applications interest often focuses on the estimation of the distribution of a time-until-event variable T. If one observes whether or not T exceeds an observed monitoring time at a random number of monitoring times, then the data structure is called interval censored data. We extend this data structure by allowing the presence of a possibly time-dependent covariate process that is observed until end of follow up. If one only assumes that the censoring mechanism satisfies coarsening at random, then, by the curve of dimensionality, typically no regular estimators will exist. To fight the curse of dimensionality we follow the approach of Robins and Rotnitzky (1992) by modeling parameters of the censoring mechanism. We model the right-censoring mechanism by modeling the hazard of the follow up time, conditional on T and the covariate process. For the monitoring mechanism we avoid modeling the joint distribution of the monitoring times by only modeling a univariate hazard of the pooled monitoring times, conditional on the follow up time, T, and the covariates process, which can be estimated by treating the pooled sample of monitoring times as i.i.d. In particular, it is assumed that the monitoring times and the right-censoring times only depend on T through the observed covariate process.

We introduce inverse probability of censoring weighted (IPCW) estimator of the distribution of T and of smooth functionals thereof which are guaranteed to be consistent and asymptotically normal if we have available correctly specified semiparametric models for the two hazards of the censoring process. Furthermore, given such correctly specified models for these hazards of the censoring process, we propose a one-step estimator which will improve on the IPCW estimator if we correctly specify a lower-dimensional working model for the conditional distribution of T, given the covariate process, that remains consistent and asymptotically normal if this latter working model is misspecified. It is shown that the one-step estimator is efficient if each subject is at most monitored once and the working model contains the truth. In general, it is shown that the one-step estimator optimally uses the surrogate information if the working model contains the truth. It is not optimal in using the interval information provided by the current status indicators at the monitoring times, but simulations in Peterson, van der Laan (1997) show that the efficiency loss is small.

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