nlive: an R package to facilitate the application of the sigmoidal and random changepoint mixed models

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2023 Nov 3;23(1):257. doi: 10.1186/s12874-023-02075-4.


Background: The use of mixed effect models with a specific functional form such as the Sigmoidal Mixed Model and the Piecewise Mixed Model (or Changepoint Mixed Model) with abrupt or smooth random change allows the interpretation of the defined parameters to understand longitudinal trajectories. Currently, there are no interface R packages that can easily fit the Sigmoidal Mixed Model allowing the inclusion of covariates or incorporating recent developments to fit the Piecewise Mixed Model with random change.

Results: To facilitate the modeling of the Sigmoidal Mixed Model, and Piecewise Mixed Model with abrupt or smooth random change, we have created an R package called nlive. All needed pieces such as functions, covariance matrices, and initials generation were programmed. The package was implemented with recent developments such as the polynomial smooth transition of the piecewise mixed model with improved properties over Bacon-Watts, and the stochastic approximation expectation-maximization (SAEM) for efficient estimation. It was designed to help interpretation of the output by providing features such as annotated output, warnings, and graphs. Functionality, including time and convergence, was tested using simulations. We provided a data example to illustrate the package use and output features and interpretation. The package implemented in the R software is available from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) at .

Conclusions: The nlive package for R fits the Sigmoidal Mixed Model and the Piecewise Mixed: abrupt and smooth. The nlive allows fitting these models with only five mandatory arguments that are intuitive enough to the less sophisticated users.

Keywords: Longitudinal outcome; Non-linear mixed model; R package; Random changepoint model; Saemix; Sigmoidal mixed model; Stochastic approximation expectation maximization; nlive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Humans
  • Software*