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Estimating treatment effects in randomized clinical trials with non-compliance: the impact of maternal smoking on birthweight

Barton Hamilton ()

Health Economics, 2001, vol. 10, issue 5, 399-410

Abstract: This paper assesses the causal impact of late-term (8th month) maternal smoking on birthweight using data from a randomized clinical trial, in which some women were encouraged not to smoke, while others were not. The estimation of treatment effects in this case is made difficult as a result of the presence of non-compliers, women who would not change their smoking status, regardless of the receipt of encouragement. Because these women are not at risk of changing treatment status, treatment effect distributions may be difficult to construct for them. Consequently, the paper focuses on obtaining the distribution of treatment impacts for the sub-set of compliers found in the data. Because compliance status is not observed for all subjects in the sample, a Bayesian finite mixture model is estimated that recovers the treatment effect parameters of interest. The complier average treatment effect implies that smokers give birth to infants weighing 348 g less than those of non-smokers, on average, although the 95% posterior density interval contains zero. The treatment effect is stronger for women who were moderate smokers prior to pregnancy, implying a birthweight difference of 430 g. However, the model predicts that only about 22% of the women in the sample were at risk of changing their smoking behaviour in response to encouragement to quit. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Date: 2001
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