PSICA: decision trees for probabilistic subgroup identification with categorical treatments

Oleg Sysoev, Krzysztof Bartoszek, Eva-Charlotte Ekstrom, Katarina Ekholm Selling

Personalized medicine aims at identifying best treatments for a patient with given characteristics. It has been shown in the literature that these methods can lead to great improvements in medicine compared to traditional methods prescribing the same treatment to all patients. Subgroup identification is a branch of personalized medicine which aims at finding subgroups of the patients with similar characteristics for which some of the investigated treatments have a better effect than the other treatments. A number of approaches based on decision trees has been proposed to identify such subgroups, but most of them focus on the two-arm trials (control/treatment) while a few methods consider quantitative treatments (defined by the dose). However, no subgroup identification method exists that can predict the best treatments in a scenario with a categorical set of treatments. We propose a novel method for subgroup identification in categorical treatment scenarios. This method outputs a decision tree showing the probabilities of a given treatment being the best for a given group of patients as well as labels showing the possible best treatments. The method is implemented in an R package \textbf{psica} available at CRAN. In addition to numerical simulations based on artificial data, we present an analysis of a community-based nutrition intervention trial that justifies the validity of our method.

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