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Mediation as a novel method for increasing statistical power

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Including a covariate can increase power to detect an effect between two variables. Although previous research has studied power in mediation models, the extent to which the inclusion of a mediator will increase the power to detect a relation between

Including a covariate can increase power to detect an effect between two variables. Although previous research has studied power in mediation models, the extent to which the inclusion of a mediator will increase the power to detect a relation between two variables has not been investigated. The first study identified situations where empirical and analytical power of two tests of significance for a single mediator model was greater than power of a bivariate significance test. Results from the first study indicated that including a mediator increased statistical power in small samples with large effects and in large samples with small effects. Next, a study was conducted to assess when power was greater for a significance test for a two mediator model as compared with power of a bivariate significance test. Results indicated that including two mediators increased power in small samples when both specific mediated effects were large and in large samples when both specific mediated effects were small. Implications of the results and directions for future research are then discussed.

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Date Created
2013

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Propensity score estimation with random forests

Description

Random Forests is a statistical learning method which has been proposed for propensity score estimation models that involve complex interactions, nonlinear relationships, or both of the covariates. In this dissertation I conducted a simulation study to examine the effects of

Random Forests is a statistical learning method which has been proposed for propensity score estimation models that involve complex interactions, nonlinear relationships, or both of the covariates. In this dissertation I conducted a simulation study to examine the effects of three Random Forests model specifications in propensity score analysis. The results suggested that, depending on the nature of data, optimal specification of (1) decision rules to select the covariate and its split value in a Classification Tree, (2) the number of covariates randomly sampled for selection, and (3) methods of estimating Random Forests propensity scores could potentially produce an unbiased average treatment effect estimate after propensity scores weighting by the odds adjustment. Compared to the logistic regression estimation model using the true propensity score model, Random Forests had an additional advantage in producing unbiased estimated standard error and correct statistical inference of the average treatment effect. The relationship between the balance on the covariates' means and the bias of average treatment effect estimate was examined both within and between conditions of the simulation. Within conditions, across repeated samples there was no noticeable correlation between the covariates' mean differences and the magnitude of bias of average treatment effect estimate for the covariates that were imbalanced before adjustment. Between conditions, small mean differences of covariates after propensity score adjustment were not sensitive enough to identify the optimal Random Forests model specification for propensity score analysis.

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Agent

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Date Created
2013

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Multilevel mediation analysis: statistical assumptions and centering

Description

Mediation analysis is a statistical approach that examines the effect of a treatment (e.g., prevention program) on an outcome (e.g., substance use) achieved by targeting and changing one or more intervening variables (e.g., peer drug use norms). The increased use

Mediation analysis is a statistical approach that examines the effect of a treatment (e.g., prevention program) on an outcome (e.g., substance use) achieved by targeting and changing one or more intervening variables (e.g., peer drug use norms). The increased use of prevention intervention programs with outcomes measured at multiple time points following the intervention requires multilevel modeling techniques to account for clustering in the data. Estimating multilevel mediation models, in which all the variables are measured at individual level (Level 1), poses several challenges to researchers. The first challenge is to conceptualize a multilevel mediation model by clarifying the underlying statistical assumptions and implications of those assumptions on cluster-level (Level-2) covariance structure. A second challenge is that variables measured at Level 1 potentially contain both between- and within-cluster variation making interpretation of multilevel analysis difficult. As a result, multilevel mediation analyses may yield coefficient estimates that are composites of coefficient estimates at different levels if proper centering is not used. This dissertation addresses these two challenges. Study 1 discusses the concept of a correctly specified multilevel mediation model by examining the underlying statistical assumptions and implication of those assumptions on Level-2 covariance structure. Further, Study 1 presents analytical results showing algebraic relationships between the population parameters in a correctly specified multilevel mediation model. Study 2 extends previous work on centering in multilevel mediation analysis. First, different centering methods in multilevel analysis including centering within cluster with the cluster mean as a Level-2 predictor of intercept (CWC2) are discussed. Next, application of the CWC2 strategy to accommodate multilevel mediation models is explained. It is shown that the CWC2 centering strategy separates the between- and within-cluster mediated effects. Next, Study 2 discusses assumptions underlying a correctly specified CWC2 multilevel mediation model and defines between- and within-cluster mediated effects. In addition, analytical results for the algebraic relationships between the population parameters in a CWC2 multilevel mediation model are presented. Finally, Study 2 shows results of a simulation study conducted to verify derived algebraic relationships empirically.

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Agent

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Date Created
2010

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Modeling multifaceted constructs in statistical mediation analysis: a bifactor approach

Description

Statistical mediation analysis allows researchers to identify the most important the mediating constructs in the causal process studied. Information about the mediating processes can be used to make interventions more powerful by enhancing successful program components and by not implementing

Statistical mediation analysis allows researchers to identify the most important the mediating constructs in the causal process studied. Information about the mediating processes can be used to make interventions more powerful by enhancing successful program components and by not implementing components that did not significantly change the outcome. Identifying mediators is especially relevant when the hypothesized mediating construct consists of multiple related facets. The general definition of the construct and its facets might relate differently to external criteria. However, current methods do not allow researchers to study the relationships between general and specific aspects of a construct to an external criterion simultaneously. This study proposes a bifactor measurement model for the mediating construct as a way to represent the general aspect and specific facets of a construct simultaneously. Monte Carlo simulation results are presented to help to determine under what conditions researchers can detect the mediated effect when one of the facets of the mediating construct is the true mediator, but the mediator is treated as unidimensional. Results indicate that parameter bias and detection of the mediated effect depends on the facet variance represented in the mediation model. This study contributes to the largely unexplored area of measurement issues in statistical mediation analysis.

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Date Created
2016

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Planned missing data in mediation analysis

Description

This dissertation examines a planned missing data design in the context of mediational analysis. The study considered a scenario in which the high cost of an expensive mediator limited sample size, but in which less expensive mediators could be gathered

This dissertation examines a planned missing data design in the context of mediational analysis. The study considered a scenario in which the high cost of an expensive mediator limited sample size, but in which less expensive mediators could be gathered on a larger sample size. Simulated multivariate normal data were generated from a latent variable mediation model with three observed indicator variables, M1, M2, and M3. Planned missingness was implemented on M1 under the missing completely at random mechanism. Five analysis methods were employed: latent variable mediation model with all three mediators as indicators of a latent construct (Method 1), auxiliary variable model with M1 as the mediator and M2 and M3 as auxiliary variables (Method 2), auxiliary variable model with M1 as the mediator and M2 as a single auxiliary variable (Method 3), maximum likelihood estimation including all available data but incorporating only mediator M1 (Method 4), and listwise deletion (Method 5).

The main outcome of interest was empirical power to detect the mediated effect. The main effects of mediation effect size, sample size, and missing data rate performed as expected with power increasing for increasing mediation effect sizes, increasing sample sizes, and decreasing missing data rates. Consistent with expectations, power was the greatest for analysis methods that included all three mediators, and power decreased with analysis methods that included less information. Across all design cells relative to the complete data condition, Method 1 with 20% missingness on M1 produced only 2.06% loss in power for the mediated effect; with 50% missingness, 6.02% loss; and 80% missingess, only 11.86% loss. Method 2 exhibited 20.72% power loss at 80% missingness, even though the total amount of data utilized was the same as Method 1. Methods 3 – 5 exhibited greater power loss. Compared to an average power loss of 11.55% across all levels of missingness for Method 1, average power losses for Methods 3, 4, and 5 were 23.87%, 29.35%, and 32.40%, respectively. In conclusion, planned missingness in a multiple mediator design may permit higher quality characterization of the mediator construct at feasible cost.

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Agent

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Date Created
2015

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Comparison of methods for estimating longitudinal indirect effects

Description

Mediation analysis is used to investigate how an independent variable, X, is related to an outcome variable, Y, through a mediator variable, M (MacKinnon, 2008). If X represents a randomized intervention it is difficult to make a cause and effect

Mediation analysis is used to investigate how an independent variable, X, is related to an outcome variable, Y, through a mediator variable, M (MacKinnon, 2008). If X represents a randomized intervention it is difficult to make a cause and effect inference regarding indirect effects without making no unmeasured confounding assumptions using the potential outcomes framework (Holland, 1988; MacKinnon, 2008; Robins & Greenland, 1992; VanderWeele, 2015), using longitudinal data to determine the temporal order of M and Y (MacKinnon, 2008), or both. The goals of this dissertation were to (1) define all indirect and direct effects in a three-wave longitudinal mediation model using the causal mediation formula (Pearl, 2012), (2) analytically compare traditional estimators (ANCOVA, difference score, and residualized change score) to the potential outcomes-defined indirect effects, and (3) use a Monte Carlo simulation to compare the performance of regression and potential outcomes-based methods for estimating longitudinal indirect effects and apply the methods to an empirical dataset. The results of the causal mediation formula revealed the potential outcomes definitions of indirect effects are equivalent to the product of coefficient estimators in a three-wave longitudinal mediation model with linear and additive relations. It was demonstrated with analytical comparisons that the ANCOVA, difference score, and residualized change score models’ estimates of two time-specific indirect effects differ as a function of the respective mediator-outcome relations at each time point. The traditional model that performed the best in terms of the evaluation criteria in the Monte Carlo study was the ANCOVA model and the potential outcomes model that performed the best in terms of the evaluation criteria was sequential G-estimation. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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Agent

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Date Created
2018