Estimating treatment effects from single-arm trials via latent-variable modeling


Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the accepted standard for treatment effect estimation but they can be infeasible due to ethical reasons and prohibitive costs. Single-arm trials, where all patients belong to the treatment group, can be a viable alternative but require access to an external control group. We propose an identifiable deep latent-variable model for this scenario that can also account for missing covariate observations by modeling their structured missingness patterns. Our method uses amortized variational inference to learn both group-specific and identifiable shared latent representations, which can subsequently be used for {\em (i)} patient matching if treatment outcomes are not available for the treatment group, or for {\em (ii)} direct treatment effect estimation assuming outcomes are available for both groups. We evaluate the model on a public benchmark as well as on a data set consisting of a published RCT study and real-world electronic health records. Compared to previous methods, our results show improved performance both for direct treatment effect estimation as well as for effect estimation via patient matching.

Samuel Kaski
Samuel Kaski
Professor of Artificial Intelligence