JOURNAL ARTICLE

Likelihood methods for incomplete longitudinal binary responses with incomplete categorical covariates

S R Lipsitz, J G Ibrahim, G M Fitzmaurice
Biometrics 1999, 55 (1): 214-23
11318157
We consider longitudinal studies in which the outcome observed over time is binary and the covariates of interest are categorical. With no missing responses or covariates, one specifies a multinomial model for the responses given the covariates and uses maximum likelihood to estimate the parameters. Unfortunately, incomplete data in the responses and covariates are a common occurrence in longitudinal studies. Here we assume the missing data are missing at random (Rubin, 1976, Biometrika 63, 581-592). Since all of the missing data (responses and covariates) are categorical, a useful technique for obtaining maximum likelihood parameter estimates is the EM algorithm by the method of weights proposed in Ibrahim (1990, Journal of the American Statistical Association 85, 765-769). In using the EM algorithm with missing responses and covariates, one specifies the joint distribution of the responses and covariates. Here we consider the parameters of the covariate distribution as a nuisance. In data sets where the percentage of missing data is high, the estimates of the nuisance parameters can lead to highly unstable estimates of the parameters of interest. We propose a conditional model for the covariate distribution that has several modeling advantages for the EM algorithm and provides a reduction in the number of nuisance parameters, thus providing more stable estimates in finite samples.

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