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November 2014 Causal Diagrams for Interference
Elizabeth L. Ogburn, Tyler J. VanderWeele
Statist. Sci. 29(4): 559-578 (November 2014). DOI: 10.1214/14-STS501


The term “interference” has been used to describe any setting in which one subject’s exposure may affect another subject’s outcome. We use causal diagrams to distinguish among three causal mechanisms that give rise to interference. The first causal mechanism by which interference can operate is a direct causal effect of one individual’s treatment on another individual’s outcome; we call this direct interference. Interference by contagion is present when one individual’s outcome may affect the outcomes of other individuals with whom he comes into contact. Then giving treatment to the first individual could have an indirect effect on others through the treated individual’s outcome. The third pathway by which interference may operate is allocational interference. Treatment in this case allocates individuals to groups; through interactions within a group, individuals may affect one another’s outcomes in any number of ways. In many settings, more than one type of interference will be present simultaneously. The causal effects of interest differ according to which types of interference are present, as do the conditions under which causal effects are identifiable. Using causal diagrams for interference, we describe these differences, give criteria for the identification of important causal effects, and discuss applications to infectious diseases.


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Elizabeth L. Ogburn. Tyler J. VanderWeele. "Causal Diagrams for Interference." Statist. Sci. 29 (4) 559 - 578, November 2014.


Published: November 2014
First available in Project Euclid: 15 January 2015

zbMATH: 1331.62200
MathSciNet: MR3300359
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/14-STS501

Rights: Copyright © 2014 Institute of Mathematical Statistics


Vol.29 • No. 4 • November 2014
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