What price semiparametric Cox regression?


Cox’s proportional hazards regression model is the standard method for modelling censored life-time data with covariates. In its standard form, this method relies on a semiparametric proportional hazards structure, leaving the baseline unspecified. Naturally, specifying a parametric model also for the baseline hazard, leading to fully parametric Cox models, will be more efficient when the parametric model is correct, or close to correct. The aim of this paper is two-fold. (a) We compare parametric and semiparametric models in terms of their asymptotic relative efficiencies when estimating different quantities. We find that for some quantities the gain of restricting the model space is substantial, while it is negligible for others. (b) To deal with such selection in practice we develop certain focused and averaged focused information criteria (FIC and AFIC). These aim at selecting the most appropriate proportional hazards models for given purposes. Our methodology applies also to the simpler case without covariates, when comparing Kaplan–Meier and Nelson–Aalen estimators to parametric counterparts. Applications to real data are also provided, along with analyses of theoretical behavioural aspects of our methods.

Lifetime data analysis