Semiparametric frailty models for zero‐inflated event count data in the presence of informative dropout

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Abstract Recurrent events data are commonly encountered in medical studies. In many applications, only the number of events during the follow‐up period rather than the recurrent event times is available. Two important challenges arise in such studies: (a) a substantial portion of subjects may not experience the event, and (b) we may not observe the event count for the entire study period due to informative dropout. To address the first challenge, we assume that underlying population consists of two subpopulations: a subpopulation nonsusceptible to the event of interest and a subpopulation susceptible to the event of interest. In the susceptible subpopulation, the event count is assumed to follow a Poisson distribution given the follow‐up time and the subject‐specific characteristics. We then introduce a frailty to account for informative dropout. The proposed semiparametric frailty models consist of three submodels: (a) a logistic regression model for the probability such that a subject belongs to the nonsusceptible subpopulation; (b) a nonhomogeneous Poisson process model with an unspecified baseline rate function; and (c) a Cox model for the informative dropout time. We develop likelihood‐based estimation and inference procedures. The maximum likelihood estimators are shown to be consistent. Additionally, the proposed estimators of the finite‐dimensional parameters are asymptotically normal and the covariance matrix attains the semiparametric efficiency bound. Simulation studies demonstrate that the proposed methodologies perform well in practical situations. We apply the proposed methods to a clinical trial on patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.

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