Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Bayesian regression discontinuity designs: incorporating clinical knowledge in the causal analysis of primary care data

Geneletti, Sara, O'Keeffe, Aidan G., Sharples, Linda D., Richardson, Sylvia and Baio, Gianluca (2015) Bayesian regression discontinuity designs: incorporating clinical knowledge in the causal analysis of primary care data. Statistics in Medicine, 34 (15). 2334 - 2352. ISSN 0277-6715

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview
Identification Number: 10.1002/sim.6486


The regression discontinuity (RD) design is a quasi-experimental design that estimates the causal effects of a treatment by exploiting naturally occurring treatment rules. It can be applied in any context where a particular treatment or intervention is administered according to a pre-specified rule linked to a continuous variable. Such thresholds are common in primary care drug prescription where the RD design can be used to estimate the causal effect of medication in the general population. Such results can then be contrasted to those obtained from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and inform prescription policy and guidelines based on a more realistic and less expensive context. In this paper, we focus on statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, however, the methodology can be applied to many other drugs provided these are prescribed in accordance to pre-determined guidelines. Current guidelines in the UK state that statins should be prescribed to patients with 10-year cardiovascular disease risk scores in excess of 20%. If we consider patients whose risk scores are close to the 20% risk score threshold, we find that there is an element of random variation in both the risk score itself and its measurement. We can therefore consider the threshold as a randomising device that assigns statin prescription to individuals just above the threshold and withholds it from those just below. Thus, we are effectively replicating the conditions of an RCT in the area around the threshold, removing or at least mitigating confounding. We frame the RD design in the language of conditional independence, which clarifies the assumptions necessary to apply an RD design to data, and which makes the links with instrumental variables clear. We also have context-specific knowledge about the expected sizes of the effects of statin prescription and are thus able to incorporate this into Bayesian models by formulating informative priors on our causal parameters. © 2015 The Authors. Statistics in Medicine Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors © CC BY 3.0
Divisions: Statistics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2016 15:57
Last Modified: 29 May 2024 04:00

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics