Implications of Model Misspecification in Robust Tests for Recurrent Events
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Chronic disease processes often feature transient recurrent adverse clinical events. Treatment comparisons in clinical trials of such disorders must be based on valid and efficient methods of analysis. We discuss robust strategies for testing treatment effects with recurrent events using methods based on marginal rate functions, partially conditional rate functions, and methods based on marginal failure time models. While all three approaches lead to valid tests of the null hypothesis when robust variance estimates are used, they differ in power. Moreover, some approaches lead to estimators of treatment effect which are more easily interpreted than others. To investigate this, we derive the limiting value of estimators of treatment effect from marginal failure time models and illustrate their dependence on features of the underlying point process, as well as the censoring mechanism. Through simulation, we show that methods based on marginal failure time distributions are shown to be sensitive to treatment effects delaying the occurrence of the very first recurrences. Methods based on marginal or partially conditional rate functions perform well in situations where treatment effects persist or in settings where the aim is to summarizee long-term data on efficacy.
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