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Primary Submission Category: Causal Inference and Missing Data

Recoverability of Causal Effects in a Longitudinal Study using missingness DAGs

Authors: Anastasiia Holovchak, Michael Schomaker, Paolo Denti, Helen McIlleron,

Presenting Author: Michael Schomaker*

Missing data in multiple variables is a common issue. We investigate the applicability of the framework of graphical models for handling missing data to a complex longitudinal pharmacological study of HIV-positive children treated with an efavirenz-based regimen as part of the CHAPAS-3 trial. Specifically, we examine whether the causal effects of interest, defined through static interventions on multiple continuous variables, can be recovered (estimated consistently) from the available data only. So far, there exists no general algorithm for deciding on recoverability, and decisions have to be made on a case-by-case basis. We emphasize sensitivity of recoverability to even the smallest changes in the graph structure, and present recoverability results for three plausible missingness DAGs in the CHAPAS-3 study (directed acyclic graphs), informed by clinical knowledge. Further, we propose the concept of ”closed missingness mechanisms” and show that under these mechanisms an available case analysis is admissible for consistent estimation for any type of statistical and causal query, even if the underlying missingness mechanism is of MNAR type. Simulations demonstrate how estimation results vary depending on the modelled missingness DAG. Our analyses are possibly the first to show the applicability of missingness DAGs to complex longitudinal real-world data, while highlighting the sensitivity with respect to the assumed causal model.