Semiparametric regression analysis of interval-censored data

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Journal Article
Biometrics, 2000, 56 (4), pp. 1139 - 1144
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We propose a semiparametric approach to the proportional hazards regression analysis of interval-censored data. An EM algorithm based on an approximate likelihood leads to an M-step that involves maximizing a standard Cox partial likelihood to estimate regression coefficients and then using the Breslow estimator for the unknown baseline hazards. The E-step takes a particularly simple form because all incomplete data appear as linear terms in the complete-data log likelihood. The algorithm of Turnbull (1976, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B 38, 290-295) is used to determine times at which the hazard can take positive mass. We found multiple imputation to yield an easily computed variance estimate that appears to be more reliable than asymptotic methods with small to moderately sized data sets. In the right-censored survival setting, the approach reduces to the standard Cox proportional hazards analysis, while the algorithm reduces to the one suggested by Clayton and Cuzick (1985, Applied Statistics 34, 148-156). The method is illustrated on data from the breast cancer cosmetics trial, previously analyzed by Finkelstein (1986, Biometrics 42, 845-854) and several subsequent authors.
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