Using joint models to study the association between CD4 count and the risk of death in TB/HIV data

Nobuhle N. Mchunu*, Henry G. Mwambi, Dimitris Rizopoulos, Tarylee Reddy, Nonhlanhla Yende-Zuma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: The association structure linking the longitudinal and survival sub-models is of fundamental importance in the joint modeling framework and the choice of this structure should be made based on the clinical background of the study. However, this information may not always be accessible and rationale for selecting this association structure has received relatively little attention in the literature. To this end, we aim to explore four alternative functional forms of the association structure between the CD4 count and the risk of death and provide rationale for selecting the optimal association structure for our data. We also aim to compare the results obtained from the joint model to those obtained from the time-varying Cox model. Methods: We used data from the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) AIDS Treatment programme, the Starting Antiretroviral Therapy at Three Points in Tuberculosis (SAPiT) study, an open-label, three armed randomised, controlled trial between June 2005 and July 2010 (N=642). In our analysis, we combined the early and late integrated arms and compared results to the sequential arm. We utilized the Deviance Information Criterion (DIC) to select the final model with the best structure, with smaller values indicating better model adjustments to the data. Results: Patient characteristics were similar across the study arms. Combined integrated therapy arms had a reduction of 55% in mortality (HR:0.45, 95% CI:0.28-0.72) compared to the sequential therapy arm. The joint model with a cumulative effects functional form was chosen as the best association structure. In particular, our joint model found that the area under the longitudinal profile of CD4 count was strongly associated with a 21% reduction in mortality (HR:0.79, 95% CI:0.72-0.86). Where as results from the time-varying Cox model showed a 19% reduction in mortality (HR:0.81, 95% CI:0.77-0.84). Conclusions: In this paper we have shown that the “current value” association structure is not always the best structure that expresses the correct relationship between the outcomes in all settings, which is why it is crucial to explore alternative clinically meaningful association structures that links the longitudinal and survival processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number295
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the DELTAS Africa Initiative Grant No. 107754/Z/15/Z-DELTAS Africa SSACAB. The DELTAS Africa Initiative is an independent funding scheme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) with funding from the Wellcome Trust (Grant No. 107754/Z/15/Z) and the UK government. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AAS, NEPAD Agency, Wellcome Trust or the UK government.

Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).


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