Joint latent class model: Simulation study of model properties and application to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2021 Sep 30;21(1):198. doi: 10.1186/s12874-021-01377-9.


Background: In many clinical applications, evolution of a longitudinal marker is censored by an event occurrence, and, symmetrically, event occurrence can be influenced by the longitudinal marker evolution. In such frameworks joint modeling is of high interest. The Joint Latent Class Model (JLCM) allows to stratify the population into groups (classes) of patients that are homogeneous both with respect to the evolution of a longitudinal marker and to the occurrence of an event; this model is widely employed in real-life applications. However, the finite sample-size properties of this model remain poorly explored.

Methods: In the present paper, a simulation study is carried out to assess the impact of the number of individuals, of the censoring rate and of the degree of class separation on the finite sample size properties of the JLCM. A real-life application from the neurology domain is also presented. This study assesses the precision of class membership prediction and the impact of covariates omission on the model parameter estimates.

Results: Simulation study reveals some departures from normality of the model for survival sub-model parameters. The censoring rate and the number of individuals impact the relative bias of parameters, especially when the classes are weakly distinguished. In real-data application the observed heterogeneity on individual profiles in terms of a longitudinal marker evolution and of the event occurrence remains after adjusting to clinically relevant and available covariates; CONCLUSION: The JLCM properties have been evaluated. We have illustrated the discovery in practice and highlights the usefulness of the joint models with latent classes in this kind of data even with pre-specified factors. We made some recommendations for the use of this model and for future research.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Joint model; Latent classes; Linear mixed model; MLE properties; Monte Carlo simulations; Survival analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / diagnosis
  • Bias
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Models, Statistical