Testing concordance of instrumental variable effects in generalized linear models with application to Mendelian randomization

James Y Dai, Kwun Chuen Gary Chan, Li Hsu
Statistics in Medicine 2014 October 15, 33 (23): 3986-4007
Instrumental variable regression is one way to overcome unmeasured confounding and estimate causal effect in observational studies. Built on structural mean models, there has been considerable work recently developed for consistent estimation of causal relative risk and causal odds ratio. Such models can sometimes suffer from identification issues for weak instruments. This hampered the applicability of Mendelian randomization analysis in genetic epidemiology. When there are multiple genetic variants available as instrumental variables, and causal effect is defined in a generalized linear model in the presence of unmeasured confounders, we propose to test concordance between instrumental variable effects on the intermediate exposure and instrumental variable effects on the disease outcome, as a means to test the causal effect. We show that a class of generalized least squares estimators provide valid and consistent tests of causality. For causal effect of a continuous exposure on a dichotomous outcome in logistic models, the proposed estimators are shown to be asymptotically conservative. When the disease outcome is rare, such estimators are consistent because of the log-linear approximation of the logistic function. Optimality of such estimators relative to the well-known two-stage least squares estimator and the double-logistic structural mean model is further discussed.

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