Joint modeling of medical cost and survival in complex sample surveys


Correspondence to: Huiping Xu, Department of Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46020, U.S.A.



Medical cost data are typically highly skewed to the right with a large proportion of zero costs. It is also common for these data to be censored because of incomplete follow-up and death. In the case of censoring due to death, it is important to consider the potential dependence between cost and survival. This association can occur because patients who incur a greater amount of medical cost tend to be frailer and hence are more likely to die. To handle this informative censoring issue, joint modeling of cost and survival with shared random effects has been proposed. In this paper, we extend this joint modeling approach to handle a final feature of many medical cost data sets, i.e., Specifically, the fact that data were obtained via a complex survey design. Specifically, we extend the joint model by incorporating the sample weights when estimating the parameters and using the Taylor series linearization approach when calculating the standard errors. We use a simulation study to compare the joint modeling approach with and without these adjustments. The simulation study shows that parameter estimates can be seriously biased when information about the complex survey design is ignored. It also shows that standard errors based on the Taylor series linearization approach provide satisfactory confidence interval coverage. The proposed joint model is applied to monthly hospital costs obtained from the 2004 National Long Term Care Survey. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.