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Activity Number: 247 - Causal Inference and Statistical Learning of Intervention and Policy Effects
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 11, 2021 : 10:00 AM to 11:50 AM
Sponsor: Health Policy Statistics Section
Abstract #318095
Title: Assignment-Control Plots: A Visualization Tool for Observational Studies
Author(s): Michael Baiocchi and Rachael Caelie Aikens*
Companies: Stanford University and Stanford University
Keywords: Causal Inference; Observational Studies; Data Visualization; Matching; Propensity Score; Prognostic Score

An important step for any causal inference study design is understanding the distribution of the treated and control subjects in terms of measured baseline covariates. However, not all baseline variation is equally important. In the observational context, balancing on baseline variation summarized in a propensity score can help reduce bias due to self-selection. In both observational and experimental studies, controlling baseline variation associated with the expected outcomes can help increase the precision of causal effect estimates. We propose a set of visualizations which decompose the space of measured covariates into the different types of baseline variation important to the study design. These ``assignment-control plots'' and variations thereof visually illustrate core concepts of causal inference and suggest new directions for methodological research on study design. As a practical demonstration, we illustrate one application of assignment-control plots to a study of cardiothoracic surgery. While the family of visualization tools for studies of causality is relatively sparse, simple visual tools can be an asset to education, application, and methods development.

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

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