From sample average treatment effect to population average treatment effect on the treated: combining experimental with observational studies to estimate population treatment effects



Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) can provide unbiased estimates of sample average treatment effects. However, a common concern is that RCTs may fail to provide unbiased estimates of population average treatment effects. We derive the assumptions that are required to identify population average treatment effects from RCTs. We provide placebo tests, which formally follow from the identifying assumptions and can assess whether they hold. We offer new research designs for estimating population effects that use non-randomized studies to adjust the RCT data. This approach is considered in a cost-effectiveness analysis of a clinical intervention: pulmonary artery catheterization.