Analyzing clinical trial outcomes based on incomplete daily diary reports

Stat Med. 2016 Jul 30;35(17):2894-906. doi: 10.1002/sim.6890. Epub 2016 Feb 16.


A case study is presented assessing the impact of missing data on the analysis of daily diary data from a study evaluating the effect of a drug for the treatment of insomnia. The primary analysis averaged daily diary values for each patient into a weekly variable. Following the commonly used approach, missing daily values within a week were ignored provided there was a minimum number of diary reports (i.e., at least 4). A longitudinal model was then fit with treatment, time, and patient-specific effects. A treatment effect at a pre-specified landmark time was obtained from the model. Weekly values following dropout were regarded as missing, but intermittent daily missing values were obscured. Graphical summaries and tables are presented to characterize the complex missing data patterns. We use multiple imputation for daily diary data to create completed data sets so that exactly 7 daily diary values contribute to each weekly patient average. Standard analysis methods are then applied for landmark analysis of the completed data sets, and the resulting estimates are combined using the standard multiple imputation approach. The observed data are subject to digit heaping and patterned responses (e.g., identical values for several consecutive days), which makes accurate modeling of the response data difficult. Sensitivity analyses under different modeling assumptions for the data were performed, along with pattern mixture models assessing the sensitivity to the missing at random assumption. The emphasis is on graphical displays and computational methods that can be implemented with general-purpose software. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: clinical trials; incomplete data; multiple imputation; pattern mixture models.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Data Accuracy*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Self Report*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy
  • Software