Review of inverse probability weighting for dealing with missing data

Stat Methods Med Res. 2013 Jun;22(3):278-95. doi: 10.1177/0962280210395740. Epub 2011 Jan 10.


The simplest approach to dealing with missing data is to restrict the analysis to complete cases, i.e. individuals with no missing values. This can induce bias, however. Inverse probability weighting (IPW) is a commonly used method to correct this bias. It is also used to adjust for unequal sampling fractions in sample surveys. This article is a review of the use of IPW in epidemiological research. We describe how the bias in the complete-case analysis arises and how IPW can remove it. IPW is compared with multiple imputation (MI) and we explain why, despite MI generally being more efficient, IPW may sometimes be preferred. We discuss the choice of missingness model and methods such as weight truncation, weight stabilisation and augmented IPW. The use of IPW is illustrated on data from the 1958 British Birth Cohort.

Keywords: Asymptotic efficiency; doubly robust; model misspecification; propensity score.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Observer Variation
  • Probability*