Simulating biologically plausible complex survival data

Stat Med. 2013 Oct 15;32(23):4118-34. doi: 10.1002/sim.5823. Epub 2013 Apr 23.


Simulation studies are conducted to assess the performance of current and novel statistical models in pre-defined scenarios. It is often desirable that chosen simulation scenarios accurately reflect a biologically plausible underlying distribution. This is particularly important in the framework of survival analysis, where simulated distributions are chosen for both the event time and the censoring time. This paper develops methods for using complex distributions when generating survival times to assess methods in practice. We describe a general algorithm involving numerical integration and root-finding techniques to generate survival times from a variety of complex parametric distributions, incorporating any combination of time-dependent effects, time-varying covariates, delayed entry, random effects and covariates measured with error. User-friendly Stata software is provided.

Keywords: delayed entry; measurement error; simulation; survival; time-dependent effects; time-varying covariates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Survival Analysis*