Discussion paper // Sonderforschungsbereich 386 der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München 361
Extensions of the traditional Cox proportional hazard model, concerning the following features are often desirable in applications: Simultaneous nonparametric estimation of baseline hazard and usual fixed covariate effects, modelling and detection of time-varying covariate effects and nonlinear functional forms of metrical covariates, and inclusion of frailty components. In this paper, we develop Bayesian multiplicative hazard rate models for survival and event history data that can deal with these issues in a flexible and unified framework. Some simpler models, such as piecewise exponential models with a smoothed baseline hazard, are covered as special cases. Embedded in the counting process approach, nonparametric estimation of unknown nonlinear functional effects of time or covariates is based on Bayesian penalized splines. Inference is fully Bayesian and uses recent MCMC sampling schemes. Smoothing parameters are an integral part of the model and are estimated automatically. We investigate performance of our approach through simulation studies, and illustrate it with a real data application.