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Multiple imputation of missing composite outcomes in longitudinal data

O'Keeffe, Aidan G., Farewell, Daniel ORCID:, Tom, Brian D. M. and Farewell, Vernon T. ORCID: 2016. Multiple imputation of missing composite outcomes in longitudinal data. Statistics in Biosciences 8 (2) , pp. 310-332. 10.1007/s12561-016-9146-z

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In longitudinal randomised trials and observational studies within a medical context, a composite outcome—which is a function of several individual patient-specific outcomes—may be felt to best represent the outcome of interest. As in other contexts, missing data on patient outcome, due to patient drop-out or for other reasons, may pose a problem. Multiple imputation is a widely used method for handling missing data, but its use for composite outcomes has been seldom discussed. Whilst standard multiple imputation methodology can be used directly for the composite outcome, the distribution of a composite outcome may be of a complicated form and perhaps not amenable to statistical modelling. We compare direct multiple imputation of a composite outcome with separate imputation of the components of a composite outcome. We consider two imputation approaches. One approach involves modelling each component of a composite outcome using standard likelihood-based models. The other approach is to use linear increments methods. A linear increments approach can provide an appealing alternative as assumptions concerning both the missingness structure within the data and the imputation models are different from the standard likelihood-based approach. We compare both approaches using simulation studies and data from a randomised trial on early rheumatoid arthritis patients. Results suggest that both approaches are comparable and that for each, separate imputation offers some improvement on the direct imputation of a composite outcome.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 1867-1764
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 May 2016
Date of Acceptance: 9 March 2016
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 16:59

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