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J Am Stat Assoc. 2009 Dec 1;104(488):1398-1405.

Amplification of Sensitivity Analysis in Matched Observational Studies.

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University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


A sensitivity analysis displays the increase in uncertainty that attends an inference when a key assumption is relaxed. In matched observational studies of treatment effects, a key assumption in some analyses is that subjects matched for observed covariates are comparable, and this assumption is relaxed by positing a relevant covariate that was not observed and not controlled by matching. What properties would such an unobserved covariate need to have to materially alter the inference about treatment effects? For ease of calculation and reporting, it is convenient that the sensitivity analysis be of low dimension, perhaps indexed by a scalar sensitivity parameter, but for interpretation in specific contexts, a higher dimensional analysis may be of greater relevance. An amplification of a sensitivity analysis is defined as a map from each point in a low dimensional sensitivity analysis to a set of points, perhaps a 'curve,' in a higher dimensional sensitivity analysis such that the possible inferences are the same for all points in the set. Possessing an amplification, an investigator may calculate and report the low dimensional analysis, yet have available the interpretations of the higher dimensional analysis.

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