Wed, 23 Aug 2023
1.Consistency of common spatial estimators under spatial confounding
Authors:Brian Gilbert, Elizabeth L. Ogburn, Abhirup Datta
Abstract: This paper addresses the asymptotic performance of popular spatial regression estimators on the task of estimating the effect of an exposure on an outcome in the presence of an unmeasured spatially-structured confounder. This setting is often referred to as "spatial confounding." We consider spline models, Gaussian processes (GP), generalized least squares (GLS), and restricted spatial regression (RSR) under two data generation processes: one where the confounder is a fixed effect and one where it is a random effect. The literature on spatial confounding is confusing and contradictory, and our results correct and clarify several misunderstandings. We first show that, like an unadjusted OLS estimator, RSR is asymptotically biased under any spatial confounding scenario. We then prove a novel result on the consistency of the GLS estimator under spatial confounding. We finally prove that estimators like GLS, GP, and splines, that are consistent under confounding by a fixed effect will also be consistent under confounding by a random effect. We conclude that, contrary to much of the recent literature on spatial confounding, traditional estimators based on partially linear models are amenable to estimating effects in the presence of spatial confounding. We support our theoretical arguments with simulation studies.
2.Estimating Causal Effects for Binary Outcomes Using Per-Decision Inverse Probability Weighting
Authors:Yihan Bao, Lauren Bell, Elizabeth Williamson, Claire Garnett, Tianchen Qian
Abstract: Micro-randomized trials are commonly conducted for optimizing mobile health interventions such as push notifications for behavior change. In analyzing such trials, causal excursion effects are often of primary interest, and their estimation typically involves inverse probability weighting (IPW). However, in a micro-randomized trial additional treatments can often occur during the time window over which an outcome is defined, and this can greatly inflate the variance of the causal effect estimator because IPW would involve a product of numerous weights. To reduce variance and improve estimation efficiency, we propose a new estimator using a modified version of IPW, which we call "per-decision IPW". It is applicable when the outcome is binary and can be expressed as the maximum of a series of sub-outcomes defined over sub-intervals of time. We establish the estimator's consistency and asymptotic normality. Through simulation studies and real data applications, we demonstrate substantial efficiency improvement of the proposed estimator over existing estimators (relative efficiency up to 1.45 and sample size savings up to 31% in realistic settings). The new estimator can be used to improve the precision of primary and secondary analyses for micro-randomized trials with binary outcomes.