Biology Meets Behavior in a Clinical Trial: Two Relationships between Mortality and Mammogram Receipt

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionKowalski, Amanda. 2018. "Biology Meets Behavior in a Clinical Trial: Two Relationships between Mortality and Mammogram Receipt." PSC Research Report No. 18-892. 9 2018.

I unite the medical and economics literatures by examining relationships between biology and behavior in a clinical trial. Specifically, I identify relationships between mortality and mammogram receipt using data from the Canadian National Breast Screening Study, an influential clinical trial on mammograms. I find two important relationships. First, I find heterogeneous selection into mammogram receipt: women more likely to receive mammograms are healthier. This relationship follows from a marginal treatment effect (MTE) model that assumes no more than the local average treatment effect (LATE) assumptions. Second, I find treatment effect heterogeneity along the mammogram receipt margin: women more likely to receive mammograms are more likely to be harmed by them. This relationship follows from an ancillary assumption that builds on the first relationship. My findings contribute to the literature concerned about harms from mammography by demonstrating variation across the mammogram receipt margin. This variation poses a challenge for current mammography guidelines for women in their 40s, which unintentionally encourage more mammograms for healthier women who are more likely to be harmed by them.

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