Convex mixture regression for quantitative risk assessment.
There is wide interest in studying how the distribution of a continuous response changes with a predictor. We are motivated by environmental applications in which the predictor is the dose of an exposure and the response is a health outcome. A main focus in these studies is inference on dose levels associated with a given increase in risk relative to a baseline. In addressing this goal, popular methods either dichotomize the continuous response or focus on modeling changes with the dose in the expectation of the outcome. Such choices may lead to information loss and provide inaccurate inference on dose-response relationships. We instead propose a Bayesian convex mixture regression model that allows the entire distribution of the health outcome to be unknown and changing with the dose. To balance flexibility and parsimony, we rely on a mixture model for the density at the extreme doses, and express the conditional density at each intermediate dose via a convex combination of these extremal densities. This representation generalizes classical dose-response models for quantitative outcomes, and provides a more parsimonious, but still powerful, formulation compared to nonparametric methods, thereby improving interpretability and efficiency in inference on risk functions. A Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm for posterior inference is developed, and the benefits of our methods are outlined in simulations, along with a study on the impact of dde exposure on gestational age.
Canale, A; Durante, D; Dunson, DB
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