In cluster randomized trials, clusters of subjects are randomized rather than subjects themselves, and missing outcomes are a concern as in individual randomized trials. We assessed strategies for handling missing data when analysing cluster randomized trials with a binary outcome; strategies included complete case, adjusted complete case, and simple and multiple imputation approaches. We performed a simulation study to assess bias and coverage rate of the population-averaged intervention-effect estimate. Both multiple imputation with a random-effects logistic regression model or classical logistic regression provided unbiased estimates of the intervention effect. Both strategies also showed good coverage properties, even slightly better for multiple imputation with a random-effects logistic regression approach. Finally, this latter approach led to a slightly negatively biased intracluster correlation coefficient estimate but less than that with a classical logistic regression model strategy. We applied these strategies to a real trial randomizing households and comparing ivermectin and malathion to treat head lice.
Keywords: cluster randomized trial; missing data; multiple imputation; outcome.
© The Author(s) 2014.