Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The Kaplan-Meier (or product limit) estimator ŝ( t ) is a nonparametric (or distribution free) estimator of a survival distribution S ( t ). It was derived by Kaplan and Meier in 1958 as a direct generalization of the sample survivor function in presence of censored data. In clinical applications, the Kaplan-Meier method is very often used to estimate the probability of dying from specific causes or the probability of occurrence or recurrence of a disease. In general, the KaplanMeier method can be used to estimate the probability of occurrence of any event. The Kaplan-Meier method is generally used to summarize the survival experience of groups of individuals in terms of the empirical survivor function. Typically, not all individuals under study fail during the observation period. Some individuals may leave the study early while still alive, and some other individuals may finish the study alive. These individuals are called censored. ...