Modern statistical methods for handling missing repeated measurements in obesity trial data: beyond LOCF

Obes Rev. 2003 Aug;4(3):175-84. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-789x.2003.00109.x.


This paper brings together some modern statistical methods to address the problem of missing data in obesity trials with repeated measurements. Such missing data occur when subjects miss one or more follow-up visits, or drop out early from an obesity trial. A common approach to dealing with missing data because of dropout is 'last observation carried forward' (LOCF). This method, although intuitively appealing, requires restrictive assumptions to produce valid statistical conclusions. We review the need for obesity trials, the assumptions that must be made regarding missing data in such trials, and some modern statistical methods for analysing data containing missing repeated measurements. These modern methods have fewer limitations and less restrictive assumptions than required for LOCF. Moreover, their recent introduction into current releases of statistical software and textbooks makes them more readily available to the applied data analyses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Obesity*
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Design