Methods for constructing and assessing propensity scores

Melissa M. Garrido, Amy S. Kelley, Julia Paris, Katherine Roza, Diane E. Meier, R. Sean Morrison, Melissa D. Aldridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

595 Scopus citations


Objectives To model the steps involved in preparing for and carrying out propensity score analyses by providing step-by-step guidance and Stata code applied to an empirical dataset. Study Design Guidance, Stata code, and empirical examples are given to illustrate (1) the process of choosing variables to include in the propensity score; (2) balance of propensity score across treatment and comparison groups; (3) balance of covariates across treatment and comparison groups within blocks of the propensity score; (4) choice of matching and weighting strategies; (5) balance of covariates after matching or weighting the sample; and (6) interpretation of treatment effect estimates. Empirical Application We use data from the Palliative Care for Cancer Patients (PC4C) study, a multisite observational study of the effect of inpatient palliative care on patient health outcomes and health services use, to illustrate the development and use of a propensity score. Conclusions Propensity scores are one useful tool for accounting for observed differences between treated and comparison groups. Careful testing of propensity scores is required before using them to estimate treatment effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1701-1720
Number of pages20
JournalHealth Services Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • Observational data/quasi-experiments
  • administrative data uses
  • patient outcomes/function


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