Analyzing Repeated Measures Data on Individuals Nested Within Groups: Accounting for Dynamic Group Effects

Psychol Methods. 2013 Mar;18(1):1-14. doi: 10.1037/a0030639. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Researchers commonly collect repeated measures on individuals nested within groups such as students within schools, patients within treatment groups, or siblings within families. Often, it is most appropriate to conceptualize such groups as dynamic entities, potentially undergoing stochastic structural and/or functional changes over time. For instance, as a student progresses through school, more senior students matriculate while more junior students enroll, administrators and teachers may turn over, and curricular changes may be introduced. What it means to be a student within that school may thus differ from 1 year to the next. This article demonstrates how to use multilevel linear models to recover time-varying group effects when analyzing repeated measures data on individuals nested within groups that evolve over time. Two examples are provided. The 1st example examines school effects on the science achievement trajectories of students, allowing for changes in school effects over time. The 2nd example concerns dynamic family effects on individual trajectories of externalizing behavior and depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Psychology / methods*
  • Psychology / statistics & numerical data