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Causal mediation analysis with multiple mediators in the presence of treatment noncompliance.

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Randomized experiments are often complicated because of treatment noncompliance. This challenge prevents researchers from identifying the mediated portion of the intention-to-treated (ITT) effect, which is the effect of the assigned treatment that is attributed to a mediator. One solution suggests identifying the mediated ITT effect on the basis of the average causal mediation effect among compliers when there is a single mediator. However, considering the complex nature of the mediating mechanisms, it is natural to assume that there are multiple variables that mediate through the causal path. Motivated by an empirical analysis of a data set collected in a randomized interventional study, we develop a method to estimate the mediated portion of the ITT effect when both multiple dependent mediators and treatment noncompliance exist. This enables researchers to make an informed decision on how to strengthen the intervention effect by identifying relevant mediators despite treatment noncompliance. We propose a nonparametric estimation procedure and provide a sensitivity analysis for key assumptions. We conduct a Monte Carlo simulation study to assess the finite sample performance of the proposed approach. The proposed method is illustrated by an empirical analysis of JOBS II data, in which a job training intervention was used to prevent mental health deterioration among unemployed individuals.

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