Contrasting Causal Effects of Workplace Interventions

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Abstract

Occupational exposure guidelines are ideally based on estimated effects of static interventions that assign constant exposure over a working lifetime. Static effects are difficult to estimate when follow-up extends beyond employment because their identifiability requires additional assumptions. Effects of dynamic interventions that assign exposure while at work, allowing subjects to leave and become unexposed thereafter, are more easily identifiable but result in different estimates. Given the practical implications of exposure limits, we explored the drivers of the differences between static and dynamic interventions in a simulation study where workers could terminate employment because of an intermediate adverse health event that functions as a time-varying confounder. The two effect estimates became more similar with increasing strength of the health event and outcome relationship and with increasing time between health event and employment termination. Estimates were most dissimilar when the intermediate health event occurred early in employment, providing an effective screening mechanism.

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