Causal inference

My week at ISBA

I’ve spent the last few days in beautiful Sardinia for the ISBA world conference. The place is outstanding, really beautiful, although it’s kind of weird that there is no real town along the cost for miles and miles. Leaving Cagliari and driving for over 50km, you only come across a massive oil refinery and the town of Pula. There are many resorts (some super high-end, like the one where the conference is, some more like very nice camping sites with tents or bungalows replaced by nice apartments), but no real town.

A bunch of papers

The beginning of the new year has been particularly busy, as I’m working on several interesting projects. On the bright side, some of these are starting to give their fruits and, coincidentally, in the last few days we’ve had a few papers finalised (ie published, accepted for publication or submitted to the arxiv in an advanced status). The first one has been published in Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation (the open access version is here).

Best job ever

The job advert for the postdoc position in our MRC-funded project on the Regression Discontinuity Design is finally out. Aidan has done a fantastic job in his little over a year in the position, but he’s now moved to a lectureship in our department and so we need to find a suitable replacement. In fact, the new post has been extended and will be jointly funded by the project and the UCL department of Primary Care and Population Health $-$ who are collaborators on the RDD anyway.

B my J

As part of our work on the Regression Discontinuity Design for the British Journal of Medicine, we decided we should prepare a short, introductory research paper. We weren’t holding our breath, as we thought that, while obviously interesting to clinicians, the topic may be a little too complex and technical for the BMJ audience. So we tried really hard to strip it out of the technicalities to highlight the substantial points $-$ which they liked!

Causal Inference in Health Economic and Social Sciences

The programme of the forthcoming UK Causal Inference Meeting “Causal Inference in Health, Economic and Social Sciences” is just out. The short conference will be at the end of the month (28th and 29th of April) at the University of Cambridge. I indirectly feature as Aidan (who’s part of our RDD team) is giving a presentation in one of the sessions. His talk is entitled “The Effect of Prior Beliefs on Causal Effect Estimators within a Bayesian Regression Discontinuity Design” and basically comes out as a follow up to our paper.

Seven (a-day)

This week (among other things, including my Vespa breaking down twice in three days) I was busy taking part in an interview panel for a research associate position, together with colleagues in the Medical School at UCL. One of the questions we were asking to the candidates was about commenting a new study (incidentally, by researchers at UCL) which using data from the Health Survey for England argued that the current “optimal” regime of consuming 5 portions of vegetables and fruit per day could (should) be in fact increased to at least 7, to reduce risk of death.

Man at work(-ish)

Perhaps one could argue that the obvious, manly activity to do at the weekend when you’re home alone is to put and organise stuff in the garage. Well, I was home alone last weekend and my very own version of this was to arxiv the first paper coming out from our research on the regression discontinuity design (RDD) $-$ I know: probably not so manly. I did watch rugby and football, though….

More statins for everybody!

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says in draft guidance which now goes out to consultation that the threshold for GPs to prescribe statins to their patients should halved from the current value of a 20% risk of cardiovascular disease. The current guideline has been in place for a few years now, but data from clinical practice seems to suggest that it is not strictly adhered to by GPs.

New year new cost-effectiveness thresholds?

Karl Claxton and colleagues at the University of York have recently published a working paper on Methods for the Estimation of the NICE Cost Effectiveness Threshold. Since a guideline was issued in 2004, NICE has used standard values of £20-30,000 per QALY as the official cost-effectiveness threshold. These are effectively equivalent to the cost per quality adjusted life year gained by investing in a new technology at the expenses of an already existing intervention.

My talk at the LSHTM

Yesterday I gave a talk on our RDD project at the Centre for Statistical Methodology of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. While presenting me, Karla (the organiser of the seminar) joked that I should go for a hat trick of presentations at the LSHTM, since only last month I gave another talk (on the structural zero problems in health economics $-$ on a related note, the paper, which I also discussed here, was actually accepted by Statistics in Medicine).