An EM-based semi-parametric mixture model approach to the regression analysis of competing-risks data
We consider a mixture model approach to the regression analysis of competing-risks data. Attention is focused on inference concerning the effects of factors on both the probability of occurrence and the hazard rate conditional on each of the failure types. These two quantities are specified in the mixture model using the logistic model and the proportional hazards model, respectively. We propose a semi-parametric mixture method to estimate the logistic and regression coefficients jointly, whereby the component-baseline hazard functions are completely unspecified. Estimation is based on maximum likelihood on the basis of the full likelihood, implemented via an expectation-conditional maximization (ECM) algorithm. Simulation studies are performed to compare the performance of the proposed semi-parametric method with a fully parametric mixture approach. The results show that when the component-baseline hazard is monotonic increasing, the semi-parametric and fully parametric mixture approaches are comparable for mildly and moderately censored samples. When the component-baseline hazard is not monotonic increasing, the semi-parametric method consistently provides less biased estimates than a fully parametric approach and is comparable in efficiency in the estimation of the parameters for all levels of censoring. The methods are illustrated using a real data set of prostate cancer patients treated with different dosages of the drug diethylstilbestrol.
Statistics in Medicine
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