A general framework for parametric survival analysis

2015-09-17T11:52:52Z (GMT) by Michael J. Crowther P. C. Lambert
Parametric survival models are being increasingly used as an alternative to the Cox model in biomedical research. Through direct modelling of the baseline hazard function, we can gain greater understanding of the risk profile of patients over time, obtaining absolute measures of risk. Commonly used parametric survival models, such as the Weibull, make restrictive assumptions of the baseline hazard function, such as monotonicity, which is often violated in clinical datasets. In this article, we extend the general framework of parametric survival models proposed by Crowther and Lambert (Journal of Statistical Software 53:12, 2013), to incorporate relative survival, and robust and cluster robust standard errors. We describe the general framework through three applications to clinical datasets, in particular, illustrating the use of restricted cubic splines, modelled on the log hazard scale, to provide a highly flexible survival modelling framework. Through the use of restricted cubic splines, we can derive the cumulative hazard function analytically beyond the boundary knots, resulting in a combined analytic/numerical approach, which substantially improves the estimation process compared with only using numerical integration. User-friendly Stata software is provided, which significantly extends parametric survival models available in standard software.