# Related Articles

SUMMARY

Using validation sets for outcomes can greatly improve the estimation of vaccine efficacy (VE) in the field (Halloran and Longini, 2001; Halloran and others, 2003). Most statistical methods for using validation sets rely on the assumption that outcomes on those with no cultures are missing at random (MAR). However, often the validation sets will not be chosen at random. For example, confirmational cultures are often done on people with influenza-like illness as part of routine influenza surveillance. VE estimates based on such non-MAR validation sets could be biased. Here we propose frequentist and Bayesian approaches for estimating VE in the presence of validation bias. Our work builds on the ideas of Rotnitzky and others (1998, 2001), Scharfstein and others (1999, 2003), and Robins and others (2000). Our methods require expert opinion about the nature of the validation selection bias. In a re-analysis of an influenza vaccine study, we found, using the beliefs of a flu expert, that within any plausible range of selection bias the VE estimate based on the validation sets is much higher than the point estimate using just the non-specific case definition. Our approach is generally applicable to studies with missing binary outcomes with categorical covariates.

doi:10.1093/biostatistics/kxj031

PMCID: PMC2766283
PMID: 16556610

Bayesian; Expert opinion; Identifiability; Influenza; Missing data; Selection model; Vaccine efficacy

SUMMARY

In this paper, we develop a Bayesian method for joint analysis of longitudinal measurements and competing risks failure time data. The model allows one to analyze the longitudinal outcome with nonignorable missing data induced by multiple types of events, to analyze survival data with dependent censoring for the key event, and to draw inferences on multiple endpoints simultaneously. Compared with the likelihood approach, the Bayesian method has several advantages. It is computationally more tractable for high-dimensional random effects. It is also convenient to draw inference. Moreover, it provides a means to incorporate prior information that may help to improve estimation accuracy. An illustration is given using a clinical trial data of scleroderma lung disease. The performance of our method is evaluated by simulation studies.

doi:10.1002/sim.3562

PMCID: PMC3168565
PMID: 19308919

joint modeling; competing risks; longitudinal data; Bayesian approach

For decades, statisticians, philosophers, medical investigators and others interested in data analysis have argued that the Bayesian paradigm is the proper approach for reporting the results of scientific analyses for use by clients and readers. To date, the methods have been too complicated for non-statisticians to use. In this paper we argue that the World-Wide Web provides the perfect environment to put the Bayesian paradigm into practice: the likelihood function of the data is parsimoniously represented on the server side, the reader uses the client to represent her prior belief, and a downloaded program (a Java applet) performs the combination. In our approach, a different applet can be used for each likelihood function, prior belief can be assessed graphically, and calculation results can be reported in a variety of ways. We present a prototype implementation, BayesApplet, for two-arm clinical trials with normally-distributed outcomes, a prominent model for clinical trials. The primary implication of this work is that publishing medical research results on the Web can take a form beyond or different from that currently used on paper, and can have a profound impact on the publication and use of research results.

PMCID: PMC2232964
PMID: 8947703

While Berkson’s bias is widely recognized in the epidemiologic literature, it remains underappreciated as a model of both selection bias and bias due to missing data. Simple causal diagrams and 2×2 tables illustrate how Berkson’s bias connects to collider bias and selection bias more generally, and show the strong analogies between Berksonian selection bias and bias due to missing data. In some situations, considerations of whether data are missing at random or missing not at random is less important than the causal structure of the missing-data process. While dealing with missing data always relies on strong assumptions about unobserved variables, the intuitions built with simple examples can provide a better understanding of approaches to missing data in real-world situations.

doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e31823b6296

PMCID: PMC3237868
PMID: 22081062

Summary

In the analysis of missing data, sensitivity analyses are commonly used to check the sensitivity of the parameters of interest with respect to the missing data mechanism and other distributional and modeling assumptions. In this article, we formally develop a general local influence method to carry out sensitivity analyses of minor perturbations to generalized linear models in the presence of missing covariate data. We examine two types of perturbation schemes (the single-case and global perturbation schemes) for perturbing various assumptions in this setting. We show that the metric tensor of a perturbation manifold provides useful information for selecting an appropriate perturbation. We also develop several local influence measures to identify influential points and test model misspecification. Simulation studies are conducted to evaluate our methods, and real datasets are analyzed to illustrate the use of our local influence measures.

doi:10.1111/j.1541-0420.2008.01179.x

PMCID: PMC2819734
PMID: 19210738

Influence measure; Local influence; Missing covariates; Perturbation manifold; Perturbation scheme

Randomized clinical trials are the gold standard for evaluating interventions as
randomized assignment equalizes known and unknown characteristics between
intervention groups. However, when participants miss visits, the ability to
conduct an intent-to-treat analysis and draw conclusions about a causal link is
compromised. As guidance to those performing clinical trials, this review is a
non-technical overview of the consequences of missing data and a prescription
for its treatment beyond the typical analytic approaches to the entire research
process. Examples of bias from incorrect analysis with missing data and
discussion of the advantages/disadvantages of analytic methods are given. As no
single analysis is definitive when missing data occurs, strategies for its
prevention throughout the course of a trial are presented. We aim to convey an
appreciation for how missing data influences results and an understanding of the
need for careful consideration of missing data during the design, planning,
conduct, and analytic stages.

PMCID: PMC3767219
PMID: 24058309

missing data; clinical trial; intent to treat; MCAR; MAR; MNAR; study design

Summary

In this article, we first study parameter identifiability in randomized clinical trials with noncompliance and missing outcomes. We show that under certain conditions the parameters of interest are identifiable even under different types of completely nonignorable missing data: that is, the missing mechanism depends on the outcome. We then derive their maximum likelihood and moment estimators and evaluate their finite-sample properties in simulation studies in terms of bias, efficiency, and robustness. Our sensitivity analysis shows that the assumed nonignorable missing-data model has an important impact on the estimated complier average causal effect (CACE) parameter. Our new method provides some new and useful alternative nonignorable missing-data models over the existing latent ignorable model, which guarantees parameter identifiability, for estimating the CACE in a randomized clinical trial with noncompliance and missing data.

doi:10.1111/j.1541-0420.2008.01120.x

PMCID: PMC3631588
PMID: 18759847

Causal inference; Identifiability; Maximum likelihood estimates; Missing data; Noncompliance; Nonignorable

Case-control studies are particularly susceptible to differential exposure misclassification when exposure status is determined following incident case status. Probabilistic bias analysis methods have been developed as ways to adjust standard effect estimates based on the sensitivity and specificity of exposure misclassification. The iterative sampling method advocated in probabilistic bias analysis bears a distinct resemblance to a Bayesian adjustment; however, it is not identical. Furthermore, without a formal theoretical framework (Bayesian or frequentist), the results of a probabilistic bias analysis remain somewhat difficult to interpret. We describe, both theoretically and empirically, the extent to which probabilistic bias analysis can be viewed as approximately Bayesian. While the differences between probabilistic bias analysis and Bayesian approaches to misclassification can be substantial, these situations often involve unrealistic prior specifications and are relatively easy to detect. Outside of these special cases, probabilistic bias analysis and Bayesian approaches to exposure misclassification in case-control studies appear to perform equally well.

doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e31823b539c

PMCID: PMC3257063
PMID: 22157311

Summary

Missing covariate data often arise in biomedical studies, and analysis of such data that ignores subjects with incomplete information may lead to inefficient and possibly biased estimates. A great deal of attention has been paid to handling a single missing covariate or a monotone pattern of missing data when the missingness mechanism is missing at random. In this paper, we propose a semiparametric method for handling non-monotone patterns of missing data. The proposed method relies on the assumption that the missingness mechanism of a variable does not depend on the missing variable itself but may depend on the other missing variables. This mechanism is somewhat less general than the completely non-ignorable mechanism but is sometimes more flexible than the missing at random mechanism where the missingness mechansim is allowed to depend only on the completely observed variables. The proposed approach is robust to misspecification of the distribution of the missing covariates, and the proposed mechanism helps to nullify (or reduce) the problems due to non-identifiability that result from the non-ignorable missingness mechanism. The asymptotic properties of the proposed estimator are derived. Finite sample performance is assessed through simulation studies. Finally, for the purpose of illustration we analyze an endometrial cancer dataset and a hip fracture dataset.

doi:10.1111/biom.12159

PMCID: PMC4061254
PMID: 24571224

Dimension reduction; Estimating equations; Missing at random; Non-ignorable missing data; Robust method

Randomized trials with dropouts or censored data and discrete time-to-event type outcomes are frequently analyzed using the Kaplan–Meier or product limit (PL) estimation method. However, the PL method assumes that the censoring mechanism is noninformative and when this assumption is violated, the inferences may not be valid. We propose an expanded PL method using a Bayesian framework to incorporate informative censoring mechanism and perform sensitivity analysis on estimates of the cumulative incidence curves. The expanded method uses a model, which can be viewed as a pattern mixture model, where odds for having an event during the follow-up interval (tk−1,tk], conditional on being at risk at tk−1, differ across the patterns of missing data. The sensitivity parameters relate the odds of an event, between subjects from a missing-data pattern with the observed subjects for each interval. The large number of the sensitivity parameters is reduced by considering them as random and assumed to follow a log-normal distribution with prespecified mean and variance. Then we vary the mean and variance to explore sensitivity of inferences. The missing at random (MAR) mechanism is a special case of the expanded model, thus allowing exploration of the sensitivity to inferences as departures from the inferences under the MAR assumption. The proposed approach is applied to data from the TRial Of Preventing HYpertension.

doi:10.1093/biostatistics/kxr048

PMCID: PMC3297827
PMID: 22223746

Clinical trials; Hypertension; Ignorability index; Missing data; Pattern-mixture model; TROPHY trial

We explore a Bayesian approach to selection of variables that represent fixed and random effects in modeling of longitudinal binary outcomes with missing data caused by dropouts. We show via analytic results for a simple example that nonignorable missing data lead to biased parameter estimates. This bias results in selection of wrong effects asymptotically, which we can confirm via simulations for more complex settings. By jointly modeling the longitudinal binary data with the dropout process that possibly leads to nonignorable missing data, we are able to correct the bias in estimation and selection. Mixture priors with a point mass at zero are used to facilitate variable selection. We illustrate the proposed approach using a clinical trial for acute ischemic stroke.

doi:10.1002/bimj.201100107

PMCID: PMC3855104
PMID: 23124889

Bayesian variable selection; Bias; Dropout; Missing data; Model selection

Introduction

Systematic reviewer authors intending to include all randomized participants in their meta-analyses need to make assumptions about the outcomes of participants with missing data.

Objective

The objective of this paper is to provide systematic reviewer authors with a relatively simple guidance for addressing dichotomous data for participants excluded from analyses of randomized trials.

Methods

This guide is based on a review of the Cochrane handbook and published methodological research. The guide deals with participants excluded from the analysis who were considered ‘non-adherent to the protocol’ but for whom data are available, and participants with missing data.

Results

Systematic reviewer authors should include data from ‘non-adherent’ participants excluded from the primary study authors' analysis but for whom data are available. For missing, unavailable participant data, authors may conduct a complete case analysis (excluding those with missing data) as the primary analysis. Alternatively, they may conduct a primary analysis that makes plausible assumptions about the outcomes of participants with missing data. When the primary analysis suggests important benefit, sensitivity meta-analyses using relatively extreme assumptions that may vary in plausibility can inform the extent to which risk of bias impacts the confidence in the results of the primary analysis. The more plausible assumptions draw on the outcome event rates within the trial or in all trials included in the meta-analysis. The proposed guide does not take into account the uncertainty associated with assumed events.

Conclusions

This guide proposes methods for handling participants excluded from analyses of randomized trials. These methods can help in establishing the extent to which risk of bias impacts meta-analysis results.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057132

PMCID: PMC3581575
PMID: 23451162

This paper considers agency in the setting of embodied or active inference. In brief, we associate a sense of agency with prior beliefs about action and ask what sorts of beliefs underlie optimal behavior. In particular, we consider prior beliefs that action minimizes the Kullback–Leibler (KL) divergence between desired states and attainable states in the future. This allows one to formulate bounded rationality as approximate Bayesian inference that optimizes a free energy bound on model evidence. We show that constructs like expected utility, exploration bonuses, softmax choice rules and optimism bias emerge as natural consequences of this formulation. Previous accounts of active inference have focused on predictive coding and Bayesian filtering schemes for minimizing free energy. Here, we consider variational Bayes as an alternative scheme that provides formal constraints on the computational anatomy of inference and action—constraints that are remarkably consistent with neuroanatomy. Furthermore, this scheme contextualizes optimal decision theory and economic (utilitarian) formulations as pure inference problems. For example, expected utility theory emerges as a special case of free energy minimization, where the sensitivity or inverse temperature (of softmax functions and quantal response equilibria) has a unique and Bayes-optimal solution—that minimizes free energy. This sensitivity corresponds to the precision of beliefs about behavior, such that attainable goals are afforded a higher precision or confidence. In turn, this means that optimal behavior entails a representation of confidence about outcomes that are under an agent's control.

doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00598

PMCID: PMC3782702
PMID: 24093015

active inference; agency; Bayesian; bounded rationality; embodied cognition; free energy; inference; utility theory

Summary

Longitudinal studies with binary repeated measures are widespread in biomedical research. Marginal regression approaches for balanced binary data are well developed, while for binary process data, where measurement times are irregular and may differ by individuals, likelihood-based methods for marginal regression analysis are less well developed. In this article, we develop a Bayesian regression model for analyzing longitudinal binary process data, with emphasis on dealing with missingness. We focus on the settings where data are missing at random, which require a correctly specified joint distribution for the repeated measures in order to draw valid likelihood-based inference about the marginal mean. To provide maximum flexibility, the proposed model specifies both the marginal mean and serial dependence structures using nonparametric smooth functions. Serial dependence is allowed to depend on the time lag between adjacent outcomes as well as other relevant covariates. Inference is fully Bayesian. Using simulations, we show that adequate modeling of the serial dependence structure is necessary for valid inference of the marginal mean when the binary process data are missing at random. Longitudinal viral load data from the HIV Epidemiology Research Study (HERS) are analyzed for illustration.

doi:10.1002/sim.3265

PMCID: PMC2581820
PMID: 18351709

Repeated measures; Marginal model; Nonparametric regression; Penalized splines; HIV/AIDS; Antiviral treatment

Background

Missing outcome data are very common in smoking cessation trials. It is often assumed that all such missing data are from participants who have been unsuccessful in giving up smoking (“missing=smoking”). Here we use data from a recent Internet based smoking cessation trial in order to investigate which of a set of a priori chosen baseline variables are predictive of missingness, and the evidence for and against the “missing=smoking” assumption.

Methods

We use a selection model, which models the probability that the outcome is observed given the outcome and other variables. The selection model includes a parameter for which zero indicates that the data are Missing at Random (MAR) and large values indicate “missing=smoking”. We examine the evidence for the predictive power of baseline variables in the context of a sensitivity analysis. We use data on the number and type of attempts made to obtain outcome data in order to estimate the association between smoking status and the missing data indicator.

Results

We apply our methods to the iQuit smoking cessation trial data. From the sensitivity analysis, we obtain strong evidence that older participants are more likely to provide outcome data. The model for the number and type of attempts to obtain outcome data confirms that age is a good predictor of missing data. There is weak evidence from this model that participants who have successfully given up smoking are more likely to provide outcome data but this evidence does not support the “missing=smoking” assumption. The probability that participants with missing outcome data are not smoking at the end of the trial is estimated to be between 0.14 and 0.19.

Conclusions

Those conducting smoking cessation trials, and wishing to perform an analysis that assumes the data are MAR, should collect and incorporate baseline variables into their models that are thought to be good predictors of missing data in order to make this assumption more plausible. However they should also consider the possibility of Missing Not at Random (MNAR) models that make or allow for less extreme assumptions than “missing=smoking”.

doi:10.1186/1471-2288-12-157

PMCID: PMC3507670
PMID: 23067272

There is accumulating evidence that prior knowledge about expectations plays an important role in perception. The Bayesian framework is the standard computational approach to explain how prior knowledge about the distribution of expected stimuli is incorporated with noisy observations in order to improve performance. However, it is unclear what information about the prior distribution is acquired by the perceptual system over short periods of time and how this information is utilized in the process of perceptual decision making. Here we address this question using a simple two-tone discrimination task. We find that the “contraction bias”, in which small magnitudes are overestimated and large magnitudes are underestimated, dominates the pattern of responses of human participants. This contraction bias is consistent with the Bayesian hypothesis in which the true prior information is available to the decision-maker. However, a trial-by-trial analysis of the pattern of responses reveals that the contribution of most recent trials to performance is overweighted compared with the predictions of a standard Bayesian model. Moreover, we study participants' performance in a-typical distributions of stimuli and demonstrate substantial deviations from the ideal Bayesian detector, suggesting that the brain utilizes a heuristic approximation of the Bayesian inference. We propose a biologically plausible model, in which decision in the two-tone discrimination task is based on a comparison between the second tone and an exponentially-decaying average of the first tone and past tones. We show that this model accounts for both the contraction bias and the deviations from the ideal Bayesian detector hypothesis. These findings demonstrate the power of Bayesian-like heuristics in the brain, as well as their limitations in their failure to fully adapt to novel environments.

Author Summary

In this paper we study how history affects perception using an auditory delayed comparison task, in which human participants repeatedly compare the frequencies of two, temporally-separated pure tones. We demonstrate that the history of the experiment has a substantial effect on participants' performance: when both tones are high relative to past stimuli, people tend to report that the 2nd tone was higher, and when they are relatively low, they tend to report that the 1st tone was higher. Interestingly, only the most recent trials bias performance, which can be interpreted as if the participants assume that the statistics of stimuli in the experiment is highly volatile. Moreover, this bias persists even in settings, in which it is detrimental to performance. These results demonstrate the abilities, as well as limitations, of the cognitive system when incorporating expectations in perception.

doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002731

PMCID: PMC3486920
PMID: 23133343

This article studies a general joint model for longitudinal measurements and competing risks survival data. The model consists of a linear mixed effects sub-model for the longitudinal outcome, a proportional cause-specific hazards frailty sub-model for the competing risks survival data, and a regression sub-model for the variance–covariance matrix of the multivariate latent random effects based on a modified Cholesky decomposition. The model provides a useful approach to adjust for non-ignorable missing data due to dropout for the longitudinal outcome, enables analysis of the survival outcome with informative censoring and intermittently measured time-dependent covariates, as well as joint analysis of the longitudinal and survival outcomes. Unlike previously studied joint models, our model allows for heterogeneous random covariance matrices. It also offers a framework to assess the homogeneous covariance assumption of existing joint models. A Bayesian MCMC procedure is developed for parameter estimation and inference. Its performances and frequentist properties are investigated using simulations. A real data example is used to illustrate the usefulness of the approach.

doi:10.1007/s10985-010-9169-6

PMCID: PMC3162577
PMID: 20549344

Cause-specific hazard; Bayesian analysis; Cholesky decomposition; Mixed effects model; MCMC; Modeling covariance matrices

Having substantial missing data is a common problem in administrative and cancer registry data. We propose a sensitivity analysis to evaluate the impact of a covariate that is potentially missing not at random in survival analyses using Weibull proportional hazards regressions. We apply the method to an investigation of the impact of missing grade on post-surgical mortality outcomes in individuals with metastatic kidney cancer. Data came from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry which provides population based information on those undergoing cytoreductive nephrectomy. Tumor grade is an important component of risk stratification for patients with both localized and metastatic kidney cancer. Many individuals in SEER with metastatic kidney cancer are missing tumor grade information. We found that surgery was protective, but that the magnitude of the effect depended on assumptions about the relationship of grade with missingness.

doi:10.1002/sim.3557

PMCID: PMC2741403
PMID: 19235263

When a randomized controlled trial has missing outcome data, any analysis is based on untestable assumptions, e.g. that the data are missing at random, or less commonly on other assumptions about the missing data mechanism. Given such assumptions, there is an extensive literature on suitable methods of analysis. However, little is known about what assumptions are appropriate. We use two sources of ancillary data to explore the missing data mechanism in a trial of adherence therapy in patients with schizophrenia: carer-reported (proxy) outcomes and the number of contact attempts. This requires additional assumptions to be made whose plausibility we discuss. Proxy outcomes are found to be unhelpful in this trial because they are insufficiently associated with patient outcome and because the ancillary assumptions are implausible. The number of attempts required to achieve a follow-up interview is helpful and suggests that these data are unlikely to depart far from being missing at random. We also perform sensitivity analyses to departures from missingness at random, based on the investigators’ prior beliefs elicited at the start of the trial. Wider use of techniques such as these will help to inform the choice of suitable assumptions for the analysis of randomized controlled trials.

doi:10.1111/j.1467-985X.2009.00627.x

PMCID: PMC2916212
PMID: 20711246

Informatively missing; Missing data; Missingness not at random; Prior elicitation; Proxy data; Repeated attempts; Sensitivity analysis

Sun, Catherine Q. | Prajna, N. Venkatesh | Krishnan, Tiruvengada | Mascarenhas, Jeena | Rajaraman, Revathi | Srinivasan, Muthiah | Raghavan, Anita | O'Brien, Kieran S. | Ray, Kathryn J. | McLeod, Stephen D. | Porco, Travis C. | Acharya, Nisha R. | Lietman, Thomas M.
Purpose.

To perform a Bayesian analysis of the Mycotic Ulcer Treatment Trial I (MUTT I) using expert opinion as a prior belief.

Methods.

MUTT I was a randomized clinical trial comparing topical natamycin or voriconazole for treating filamentous fungal keratitis. A questionnaire elicited expert opinion on the best treatment of fungal keratitis before MUTT I results were available. A Bayesian analysis was performed using the questionnaire data as a prior belief and the MUTT I primary outcome (3-month visual acuity) by frequentist analysis as a likelihood.

Results.

Corneal experts had a 41.1% prior belief that natamycin improved 3-month visual acuity compared with voriconazole. The Bayesian analysis found a 98.4% belief for natamycin treatment compared with voriconazole treatment for filamentous cases as a group (mean improvement 1.1 Snellen lines, 95% credible interval 0.1–2.1). The Bayesian analysis estimated a smaller treatment effect than the MUTT I frequentist analysis result of 1.8-line improvement with natamycin versus voriconazole (95% confidence interval 0.5–3.0, P = 0.006). For Fusarium cases, the posterior demonstrated a 99.7% belief for natamycin treatment, whereas non-Fusarium cases had a 57.3% belief.

Conclusions.

The Bayesian analysis suggests that natamycin is superior to voriconazole when filamentous cases are analyzed as a group. Subgroup analysis of Fusarium cases found improvement with natamycin compared with voriconazole, whereas there was almost no difference between treatments for non-Fusarium cases. These results were consistent with, though smaller in effect size than, the MUTT I primary outcome by frequentist analysis. The accordance between analyses further validates the trial results. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00996736.)

We elicited the opinions of corneal specialists on treating filamentous fungal keratitis, to perform a Bayesian analysis of the Mycotic Ulcer Treatment Trial I. The Bayesian analysis result was consistent with, but suggested a smaller treatment effect than, the frequentist result.

doi:10.1167/iovs.13-11716

PMCID: PMC3684218
PMID: 23702779

fungal keratitis; corneal ulceration; clinical trial; Bayesian; statistics

The vast amount of biological knowledge accumulated over the years has allowed researchers to identify various biochemical interactions and define different families of pathways. There is an increased interest in identifying pathways and pathway elements involved in particular biological processes. Drug discovery efforts, for example, are focused on identifying biomarkers as well as pathways related to a disease. We propose a Bayesian model that addresses this question by incorporating information on pathways and gene networks in the analysis of DNA microarray data. Such information is used to define pathway summaries, specify prior distributions, and structure the MCMC moves to fit the model. We illustrate the method with an application to gene expression data with censored survival outcomes. In addition to identifying markers that would have been missed otherwise and improving prediction accuracy, the integration of existing biological knowledge into the analysis provides a better understanding of underlying molecular processes.

doi:10.1214/11-AOAS463

PMCID: PMC3650864
PMID: 23667412

Bayesian variable selection; gene expression; Markov chain Monte Carlo; Markov random field prior; pathway selection

The aim of this review was to establish the frequency with which trials take into account missingness, and to discover what methods trialists use for adjustment in randomised controlled trials with longitudinal measurements. Failing to address the problems that can arise from missing outcome data can result in misleading conclusions. Missing data should be addressed as a means of a sensitivity analysis of the complete case analysis results. One hundred publications of randomised controlled trials with longitudinal measurements were selected randomly from trial publications from the years 2005 to 2012. Information was extracted from these trials, including whether reasons for dropout were reported, what methods were used for handing the missing data, whether there was any explanation of the methods for missing data handling, and whether a statistician was involved in the analysis. The main focus of the review was on missing data post dropout rather than missing interim data. Of all the papers in the study, 9 (9%) had no missing data. More than half of the papers included in the study failed to make any attempt to explain the reasons for their choice of missing data handling method. Of the papers with clear missing data handling methods, 44 papers (50%) used adequate methods of missing data handling, whereas 30 (34%) of the papers used missing data methods which may not have been appropriate. In the remaining 17 papers (19%), it was difficult to assess the validity of the methods used. An imputation method was used in 18 papers (20%). Multiple imputation methods were introduced in 1987 and are an efficient way of accounting for missing data in general, and yet only 4 papers used these methods. Out of the 18 papers which used imputation, only 7 displayed the results as a sensitivity analysis of the complete case analysis results. 61% of the papers that used an imputation explained the reasons for their chosen method. Just under a third of the papers made no reference to reasons for missing outcome data. There was little consistency in reporting of missing data within longitudinal trials.

doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-237

PMCID: PMC4087243
PMID: 24947664

Review; Missing; Data; Handling; Longitudinal; Repeated; Measures

Treatment noncompliance and missing outcomes at posttreatment assessments are common problems in field experiments in naturalistic settings. Although the two complications often occur simultaneously, statistical methods that address both complications have not been routinely considered in data analysis practice in the prevention research field. This paper shows that identification and estimation of causal treatment effects considering both noncompliance and missing outcomes can be relatively easily conducted under various missing data assumptions. We review a few assumptions on missing data in the presence of noncompliance, including the latent ignorability proposed by Frangakis and Rubin (Biometrika 86:365–379, 1999), and show how these assumptions can be used in the parametric complier average causal effect (CACE) estimation framework. As an easy way of sensitivity analysis, we propose the use of alternative missing data assumptions, which will provide a range of causal effect estimates. In this way, we are less likely to settle with a possibly biased causal effect estimate based on a single assumption. We demonstrate how alternative missing data assumptions affect identification of causal effects, focusing on the CACE. The data from the Johns Hopkins School Intervention Study (Ialongo et al., Am J Community Psychol 27:599–642, 1999) will be used as an example.

doi:10.1007/s11121-010-0175-4

PMCID: PMC2912956
PMID: 20379779

Causal inference; Complier average causal effect; Latent ignorability; Missing at random; Missing data; Noncompliance

We use the framework of coarsened data to motivate performing sensitivity analysis in the presence of incomplete data. To perform the sensitivity analysis, we specify pattern-mixture models to allow departures from the assumption of coarsening at random, a generalization of missing at random and independent censoring. We apply the concept of coarsening to address potential bias from missing data and interval-censored data in a randomized controlled trial of an herbal treatment for acute hepatitis. Computer code using SAS PROC NLMIXED for fitting the models is provided.

doi:10.1080/10543400903242779

PMCID: PMC3727411
PMID: 20183462

Coarsened data; Interval censoring; Missing data; Nonignorable missingness; Sensitivity analysis

Background

Many randomized trials involve missing binary outcomes. Although many previous adjustments for missing binary outcomes have been proposed, none of these makes explicit use of randomization to bound the bias when the data are not missing at random.

Methods

We propose a novel approach that uses the randomization distribution to compute the anticipated maximum bias when missing at random does not hold due to an unobserved binary covariate (implying that missingness depends on outcome and treatment group). The anticipated maximum bias equals the product of two factors: (a) the anticipated maximum bias if there were complete confounding of the unobserved covariate with treatment group among subjects with an observed outcome and (b) an upper bound factor that depends only on the fraction missing in each randomization group. If less than 15% of subjects are missing in each group, the upper bound factor is less than .18.

Results

We illustrated the methodology using data from the Polyp Prevention Trial. We anticipated a maximum bias under complete confounding of .25. With only 7% and 9% missing in each arm, the upper bound factor, after adjusting for age and sex, was .10. The anticipated maximum bias of .25 × .10 =.025 would not have affected the conclusion of no treatment effect.

Conclusion

This approach is easy to implement and is particularly informative when less than 15% of subjects are missing in each arm.

doi:10.1186/1471-2288-3-8

PMCID: PMC194902
PMID: 12734019