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Domain constraints improve risk prediction when outcome data is missing

Sidhika Balachandar · Nikhil Garg · Emma Pierson

Halle B #209
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Thu 9 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Machine learning models are often trained to predict the outcome resulting from a human decision. For example, if a doctor decides to test a patient for disease, will the patient test positive? A challenge is that historical decision-making determines whether the outcome is observed: we only observe test outcomes for patients doctors historically tested. Untested patients, for whom outcomes are unobserved, may differ from tested patients along observed and unobserved dimensions. We propose a Bayesian model class which captures this setting. The purpose of the model is to accurately estimate risk for both tested and untested patients. Estimating this model is challenging due to the wide range of possibilities for untested patients. To address this, we propose two domain constraints which are plausible in health settings: a prevalence constraint, where the overall disease prevalence is known, and an expertise constraint, where the human decision-maker deviates from purely risk-based decision-making only along a constrained feature set. We show theoretically and on synthetic data that domain constraints improve parameter inference. We apply our model to a case study of cancer risk prediction, showing that the model's inferred risk predicts cancer diagnoses, its inferred testing policy captures known public health policies, and it can identify suboptimalities in test allocation. Though our case study is in healthcare, our analysis reveals a general class of domain constraints which can improve model estimation in many settings.

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