Individualized treatment effects with censored data via fully nonparametric Bayesian accelerated failure time models

Nicholas C. Henderson, Thomas A. Louis, Gary L. Rosner, Ravi Varadhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Individuals often respond differently to identical treatments, and characterizing such variability in treatment response is an important aim in the practice of personalized medicine. In this article, we describe a nonparametric accelerated failure time model that can be used to analyze heterogeneous treatment effects (HTE) when patient outcomes are time-to-event. By utilizing Bayesian additive regression trees and a mean-constrained Dirichlet process mixture model, our approach offers a flexible model for the regression function while placing few restrictions on the baseline hazard. Our nonparametric method leads to natural estimates of individual treatment effect and has the flexibility to address many major goals of HTE assessment. Moreover, our method requires little user input in terms of model specification for treatment covariate interactions or for tuning parameter selection. Our procedure shows strong predictive performance while also exhibiting good frequentist properties in terms of parameter coverage and mitigation of spurious findings of HTE. We illustrate the merits of our proposed approach with a detailed analysis of two large clinical trials (N = 6769) for the prevention and treatment of congestive heart failure using an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. The analysis revealed considerable evidence for the presence of HTE in both trials as demonstrated by substantial estimated variation in treatment effect and by high proportions of patients exhibiting strong evidence of having treatment effects which differ from the overall treatment effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-68
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Dirichlet process mixture
  • Ensemble methods
  • Heterogeneity of treatment effect
  • Interaction
  • Personalized medicine
  • Subgroup analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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