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Testing for the Presence of a Cure Fraction in Clustered Interval-Censored Survival Data

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Summary

Clustered interval-censored survival data are often encountered in clinical and epidemiological studies due to geographic exposures and periodic visits of patients. When a nonnegligible cured proportion exists in the population, several authors in recent years have proposed to use mixture cure models incorporating random effects or frailties to analyze such complex data. However, the implementation of the mixture cure modeling approaches may be cumbersome. Interest then lies in determining whether or not it is necessary to adjust the cured proportion prior to the mixture cure analysis. This paper mainly focuses on the development of a score for testing the presence of cured subjects in clustered and interval-censored survival data. Through simulation, we evaluate the sampling distribution and power behaviour of the score test. A bootstrap approach is further developed, leading to more accurate significance levels and greater power in small sample situations. We illustrate applications of the test using data sets from a smoking cessation study and a retrospective study of early breast cancer patients.

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