We consider estimating the effect of hemoglobin variability on mortality in hemodialysis patients. Causal effects can be defined as comparisons of outcomes under different hypothetical interventions. Defining measures of the effect of hemoglobin variability and clinical outcomes is complicated by the fact that hypothetical interventions on variability used to define its effect inevitably involve manipulation of related variables. We propose a model-based definition of the effect of the hemoglobin variability as a parameter for variability in a causal model for the effect of an overall intervention on hemoglobin levels over time. We consider this problem using history-adjusted marginal structural models, and apply this approach to data from a large observational database. We consider issues arising when the variable of interest is endogenous, and consider in principle alternate estimands.


Clinical Epidemiology