Differentially Private Survival Function Estimation

Lovedeep Gondara, Ke Wang

Abstract: Survival function estimation is used in many disciplines, but it is most common in medical analytics in the form of the Kaplan-Meier estimator. Sensitive data (patient records) is used in the estimation without any explicit control on the information leakage, which is a significant privacy concern. We propose a first differentially private estimator of the survival function and show that it can be easily extended to provide differentially private confidence intervals and test statistics without spending any extra privacy budget. We further provide extensions for differentially private estimation of the competing risk cumulative incidence function, Nelson-Aalen's estimator for the hazard function, etc. Using eleven real-life clinical datasets, we provide empirical evidence that our proposed method provides good utility while simultaneously providing strong privacy guarantees.