Nonparametric inference in the accelerated failure time model using restricted means

Lifetime Data Anal. 2022 Jan;28(1):23-39. doi: 10.1007/s10985-021-09541-5. Epub 2022 Jan 12.


We propose a nonparametric estimate of the scale-change parameter for characterizing the difference between two survival functions under the accelerated failure time model using an estimating equation based on restricted means. Advantages of our restricted means based approach compared to current nonparametric procedures is the strictly monotone nature of the estimating equation as a function of the scale-change parameter, leading to a unique root, as well as the availability of a direct standard error estimate, avoiding the need for hazard function estimation or re-sampling to conduct inference. We derive the asymptotic properties of the proposed estimator for fixed and for random point of restriction. In a simulation study, we compare the performance of the proposed estimator with parametric and nonparametric competitors in terms of bias, efficiency, and accuracy of coverage probabilities. The restricted means based approach provides unbiased estimates and accurate confidence interval coverage rates with efficiency ranging from 81% to 95% relative to fitting the correct parametric model. An example from a randomized clinical trial in head and neck cancer is provided to illustrate an application of the methodology in practice.

Keywords: Accelerated failure time (AFT) model; Kaplan–Meier estimator; Random censoring; Restricted mean; Scale-change parameter; Z-estimator.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Probability
  • Survival Analysis*