On the restricted mean survival time curve in survival analysis

Lihui Zhao, Brian Claggett, Lu Tian, Hajime Uno, Marc A. Pfeffer, Scott D. Solomon, Lorenzo Trippa, L. J. Wei*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


For a study with an event time as the endpoint, its survival function contains all the information regarding the temporal, stochastic profile of this outcome variable. The survival probability at a specific time point, say t, however, does not transparently capture the temporal profile of this endpoint up to t. An alternative is to use the restricted mean survival time (RMST) at time t to summarize the profile. The RMST is the mean survival time of all subjects in the study population followed up to t, and is simply the area under the survival curve up to t. The advantages of using such a quantification over the survival rate have been discussed in the setting of a fixed-time analysis. In this article, we generalize this approach by considering a curve based on the RMST over time as an alternative summary to the survival function. Inference, for instance, based on simultaneous confidence bands for a single RMST curve and also the difference between two RMST curves are proposed. The latter is informative for evaluating two groups under an equivalence or noninferiority setting, and quantifies the difference of two groups in a time scale. The proposal is illustrated with the data from two clinical trials, one from oncology and the other from cardiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Equivalence/noninferiority study
  • Gaussian process
  • Martingale
  • Simultaneous confidence band
  • Survival function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

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