Studying Multivariate Change Using Multilevel Models and Latent Curve Models

Multivariate Behav Res. 1997 Jul 1;32(3):215-53. doi: 10.1207/s15327906mbr3203_1.


In longitudinal research investigators often measure multiple variables at multiple points in time and are interested in investigating individual differences in patterns of change on those variables. In the vast majority of applications, researchers focus on studying change in one variable at a time. In this article we consider methods for studying relations1.1ips between patterns of change on different variables. We show how the multilevel modeling framework, which is often used to study univariate change, can be extended to the multivariate case to yield estimates of covariances of parameters representing aspects of change on different variables. We illustrate this approach using data from a study of physiological response to marital conflict in older married couples, showing a substantial correlation between rate of linear change on different stress-related hormones during conflict. We also consider how similar issues can be studied using extensions of latent curve models to the multivariate case, and we show how such models are related to multivariate multilevel models.