Author(s): Cortese G, Andersen PK
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Abstract Time-dependent covariates are frequently encountered in regression analysis for event history data and competing risks. They are often essential predictors, which cannot be substituted by time-fixed covariates. This study briefly recalls the different types of time-dependent covariates, as classified by Kalbfleisch and Prentice [The Statistical Analysis of Failure Time Data, Wiley, New York, 2002] with the intent of clarifying their role and emphasizing the limitations in standard survival models and in the competing risks setting. If random (internal) time-dependent covariates are to be included in the modeling process, then it is still possible to estimate cause-specific hazards but prediction of the cumulative incidences and survival probabilities based on these is no longer feasible. This article aims at providing some possible strategies for dealing with these prediction problems. In a multi-state framework, a first approach uses internal covariates to define additional (intermediate) transient states in the competing risks model. Another approach is to apply the landmark analysis as described by van Houwelingen [Scandinavian Journal of Statistics 2007, 34, 70-85] in order to study cumulative incidences at different subintervals of the entire study period. The final strategy is to extend the competing risks model by considering all the possible combinations between internal covariate levels and cause-specific events as final states. In all of those proposals, it is possible to estimate the changes/differences of the cumulative risks associated with simple internal covariates. An illustrative example based on bone marrow transplant data is presented in order to compare the different methods.
This article was published in Biom J
and referenced in Journal of Health Education Research & Development