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Activity Number: 226 - Novel Interventional Approaches to Causal Mediation Analysis: Theory and Practice
Type: Invited
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 11, 2021 : 10:00 AM to 11:50 AM
Sponsor: Section on Statistics in Epidemiology
Abstract #316946
Title: An Interventionist Approach to Mediation Analysis
Author(s): Thomas Richardson* and James M Robins and Ilya Shpitser
Companies: University of Washington and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University
Keywords: Components of Treatment; Direct Effects; Interventionist Approach; Mediation; Separability

Causal Mediation Analysis is concerned with distinguishing different causal pathways that may link a treatment and an outcome. In the simplest case we may wish to know whether a treatment acts directly on the outcome or via a mediator. We describe a conceptual framework for analyzing mediation (outlined in Robins & R 2010) based on decomposing the treatment into sub-components. We contrast this with a non-interventionist approach advocated by Pearl (2001) based on nested counterfactuals. The interventionist approach has several advantages: It does not require the existence of well-defined interventions on mediators; Identified effects are, in principle, empirically testable via interventions; The new theory preserves the dictum "no causation without manipulation"; It replaces the definitions of path specific effects as nested counterfactuals with definitions in terms of concrete experimental interventions; It facilitates communication with subject matter experts. However, when both effects are identified from data, the identifying formulae under both approaches are identical, even though the effects are different.

Authors who are presenting talks have a * after their name.

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