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Covariate balance in a Bayesian propensity score analysis of beta blocker therapy in heart failure patients

McCandless LC, Gustafson P, Austin PC, Levy AR. Epidemiol Perspect Innov. 2009; 6:5.

Regression adjustment for the propensity score is a statistical method that reduces confounding from measured variables in observational data. A Bayesian propensity score analysis extends this idea by using simultaneous estimation of the propensity scores and the treatment effect.

In this article, the authors conduct an empirical investigation of the performance of Bayesian propensity scores in the context of an observational study of the effectiveness of beta-blocker therapy in heart failure patients. They study the balancing properties of the estimated propensity scores. Traditional Frequentist propensity scores focus attention on balancing covariates that are strongly associated with treatment.

In contrast, the authors demonstrate that Bayesian propensity scores can be used to balance the association between covariates and the outcome. This balancing property has the effect of reducing confounding bias because it reduces the degree to which covariates are outcome risk factors.

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Keywords: Research and statistical methods