Assessing effect heterogeneity of a randomized treatment using conditional inference trees

Ashwini Venkatasubramaniam, Brandon Koch, Lauren Erickson, Simone A French, David Vock, Julian Wolfson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Treatment effect heterogeneity occurs when individual characteristics influence the effect of a treatment. We propose a novel approach that combines prognostic score matching and conditional inference trees to characterize effect heterogeneity of a randomized binary treatment. One key feature that distinguishes our method from alternative approaches is that it controls the Type I error rate, that is, the probability of identifying effect heterogeneity if none exists and retains the underlying subgroups. This feature makes our technique particularly appealing in the context of clinical trials, where there may be significant costs associated with erroneously declaring that effects differ across population subgroups. Treatment effect heterogeneity trees are able to identify heterogeneous subgroups, characterize the relevant subgroups and estimate the associated treatment effects. We demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed method using a comprehensive simulation study and illustrate our method using a nutrition trial dataset to evaluate effect heterogeneity within a patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalStatistical methods in medical research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Causal effects
  • conditional inference trees
  • matching
  • treatment effect heterogeneity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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