Using Studies of Treatment Response to Inform Treatment Choice in Heterogeneous Populations
An important practical objective of empirical studies of treatment response is to provide decision makers with information useful in choosing treatments. Often the decision maker is a planner who must choose treatments for the members of a heterogeneous population; for example, a physician may choose medical treatments for a population of patients. Studies of treatment response cannot provide all the information that planners would like to have as they choose treatments, but researchers can be of service by addressing several questions: How should studies be designed in order to be most informative? How should studies report their findings so as to be most useful in decision making? How should planners utilize the information that studies provide? This paper addresses aspects of these broad questions, focusing on pervasive problems of identification and statistical inference that arise when studying treatment response.