On the joys of missing data

J Pediatr Psychol. 2014 Mar;39(2):151-62. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jst048. Epub 2013 Jul 8.


We provide conceptual introductions to missingness mechanisms--missing completely at random, missing at random, and missing not at random--and state-of-the-art methods of handling missing data--full-information maximum likelihood and multiple imputation--followed by a discussion of planned missing designs: Multiform questionnaire protocols, 2-method measurement models, and wave-missing longitudinal designs. We reviewed 80 articles of empirical studies published in the 2012 issues of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology to present a picture of how adequately missing data are currently handled in this field. To illustrate the benefits of using multiple imputation or full-information maximum likelihood and incorporating planned missingness into study designs, we provide example analyses of empirical data gathered using a 3-form planned missing design.

Keywords: full-information maximum likelihood; missing data analysis; missingness mechanisms; multiple imputation; planned missing design.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Psychology
  • Research Design*