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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00740

Evaluating a Method to Estimate Mediation Effects with Discrete-Time Survival Outcomes

  • 1University of South Carolina, United States
  • 2University of Virginia, United States
  • 3Georgia State University, United States

The utility of evaluating mediation effects spans across research domains. The model facilitates investigation of underlying mechanisms of event timing and, as such, has the potential to help strengthen etiological research and inform intervention work that incorporates the evaluation of mediating variables. In order for the analyses to be maximally useful however, it is critical to employ methodology appropriate for the data under investigation. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a regression-based approach to estimating mediation effects with discrete-time survival outcomes. We empirically evaluate the performance of the discrete-time survival mediation model in a statistical simulation study, and demonstrate that results are functionally equivalent to estimates garnered from a potential-outcomes framework. Simulation results indicate that parameter estimates of mediation in the model were statistically accurate and precise across the range of examined conditions. Type 1 error rates were also tolerable in the conditions studied. Adequate power to detect effects in the model, with binary X and continuous M variables, required effect sizes of the mediation paths to be medium or large. Possible extensions of the model are also considered.

Keywords: event history, Discrete-time, survival analysis, Mediation, onset

Received: 11 Nov 2018; Accepted: 16 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Pietro Cipresso, Istituto Auxologico Italiano (IRCCS), Italy

Reviewed by:

Andreas Ivarsson, Halmstad University, Sweden, Sweden
Mashhood A. Sheikh, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway  

Copyright: © 2019 Fairchild, Cai, McDaniel, Shi, Gottschall and Masyn. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Amanda J. Fairchild, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 29208, Missouri, United States, afairchi@mailbox.sc.edu