Analysis of incomplete multivariate data using linear models with structured covariance matrices

Stat Med. Jan-Feb 1988;7(1-2):317-24. doi: 10.1002/sim.4780070132.


Incomplete and unbalanced multivariate data often arise in longitudinal studies due to missing or unequally-timed repeated measurements and/or the presence of time-varying covariates. A general approach to analysing such data is through maximum likelihood analysis using a linear model for the expected responses, and structural models for the within-subject covariances. Two important advantages of this approach are: (1) the generality of the model allows the analyst to consider a wider range of models than were previously possible using classical methods developed for balanced and complete data, and (2) maximum likelihood estimates obtained from incomplete data are often preferable to other estimates such as those obtained from complete cases from the standpoint of bias and efficiency. A variety of applications of the model are discussed, including univariate and multivariate analysis of incomplete repeated measures data, analysis of growth curves with missing data using random effects and time-series models, and applications to unbalanced longitudinal data.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics as Topic*