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Model checking in multiple imputation: an overview and case study

Cattram D Nguyen, John B Carlin, Katherine J Lee
Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 2017, 14: 8
28852415

BACKGROUND: Multiple imputation has become very popular as a general-purpose method for handling missing data. The validity of multiple-imputation-based analyses relies on the use of an appropriate model to impute the missing values. Despite the widespread use of multiple imputation, there are few guidelines available for checking imputation models.

ANALYSIS: In this paper, we provide an overview of currently available methods for checking imputation models. These include graphical checks and numerical summaries, as well as simulation-based methods such as posterior predictive checking. These model checking techniques are illustrated using an analysis affected by missing data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

CONCLUSIONS: As multiple imputation becomes further established as a standard approach for handling missing data, it will become increasingly important that researchers employ appropriate model checking approaches to ensure that reliable results are obtained when using this method.

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