Multilevel covariance regression with correlated random effects in the mean and variance structure

Biom J. 2017 Sep;59(5):1047-1066. doi: 10.1002/bimj.201600193. Epub 2017 Jul 10.


Multivariate regression methods generally assume a constant covariance matrix for the observations. In case a heteroscedastic model is needed, the parametric and nonparametric covariance regression approaches can be restrictive in the literature. We propose a multilevel regression model for the mean and covariance structure, including random intercepts in both components and allowing for correlation between them. The implied conditional covariance function can be different across clusters as a result of the random effect in the variance structure. In addition, allowing for correlation between the random intercepts in the mean and covariance makes the model convenient for skewedly distributed responses. Furthermore, it permits us to analyse directly the relation between the mean response level and the variability in each cluster. Parameter estimation is carried out via Gibbs sampling. We compare the performance of our model to other covariance modelling approaches in a simulation study. Finally, the proposed model is applied to the RN4CAST dataset to identify the variables that impact burnout of nurses in Belgium.

Keywords: Correlated responses; Covariance modeling; Gibbs sampling; Heteroscedastic; Multivariate normal distribution.

MeSH terms

  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics as Topic