[gov3009-l] VanderWeele on "A marginal structural model for loneliness"

Matt Blackwell mblackwell at iq.harvard.edu
Mon Nov 8 19:09:24 EST 2010

Hi all,

We hope that you can join us for the Applied Statistics Workshop this
Wednesday, November 10th when we will be happy to have Tyler
VanderWeele from the Harvard School of Public Health. You will find an
abstract below. As always, we will serve a light lunch (sandwiches)
and the talk will begin around 12:15p.

“A marginal structural model for loneliness: implications for clinical trials?”
Tyler VanderWeele
Harvard School of Public Health
CGIS K354 (1737 Cambridge St.)
Wednesday, November 10th, 12 noon

Clinical scientists, policy makers, and individuals must make
decisions concerning effective interventions that address
health-related issues.  We use longitudinal data on loneliness and
depressive symptoms and a class of causal models to illustrate how
empirical evidence can be used to inform intervention trial design and
clinical practice. Data were obtained from a population-based study of
non-Hispanic Caucasians, African Americans and Latino Americans born
between 1935 and 1952. Marginal structural causal models were employed
to evaluate the extent to which depressive symptoms depend not only on
loneliness measured at a single point in time (as in prior studies of
the effect of loneliness) but also on an individual?s entire
loneliness history. Our results indicate that if interventions to
reduce loneliness by one standard deviation were made one and two
years prior to assessing depressive symptoms, both would have an
effect and would together result in an average reduction in depressive
symptoms of 0.33 standard deviations (95% CI: 0.21, 0.44, P<0.0001).
In light of the persistence of the effects of loneliness, our results
also suggests that, in the evaluation of interventions on loneliness,
it may be important to allow for a considerable follow-up period in
assessing outcomes.

Matthew Blackwell
PhD Candidate
Institute for Quantitative Social Science
Department of Government
Harvard University
url: http://people.fas.harvard.edu/~blackwel/

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