Missing data: an introductory conceptual overview for the novice researcher

Can J Nurs Res. 2005 Dec;37(4):156-71.


Missing data is a common issue in research that, if improperly handled, can lead to inaccurate conclusions about populations. A variety of statistical techniques are available to treat missing data. Some of these are simple while others are conceptually and mathematically complex. The purpose of this paper is to provide the novice researcher with an introductory conceptual overview of the issue of missing data. The authors discuss patterns of missing data, common missing-data handling techniques, and issues associated with missing data. Techniques discussed include listwise deletion, pairwise deletion, case mean substitution, sample mean substitution, group mean substitution, regression imputation, and estimation maximization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bias
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Data Collection / standards
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Research / methods*
  • Nursing Research / standards
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design* / standards