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Biometrika

Year: 2009  |  Volume: 96  |  Issue: 2  |  Page No.: 263 - 276

Mixtures of Polya trees for flexible spatial frailty survival modelling

L Zhao, T. E Hanson and B. P. Carlin

Abstract

Mixtures of Polya trees offer a very flexible nonparametric approach for modelling time-to-event data. Many such settings also feature spatial association that requires further sophistication, either at the point level or at the lattice level. In this paper, we combine these two aspects within three competing survival models, obtaining a data analytic approach that remains computationally feasible in a fully hierarchical Bayesian framework using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. We illustrate our proposed methods with an analysis of spatially oriented breast cancer survival data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program of the National Cancer Institute. Our results indicate appreciable advantages for our approach over competing methods that impose unrealistic parametric assumptions, ignore spatial association or both.

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