Estimation of planned and unplanned missing individual scores in longitudinal designs using continuous-time state-space models

Psychol Methods. 2024 May 16. doi: 10.1037/met0000664. Online ahead of print.


Latent change score (LCS) models within a continuous-time state-space modeling framework provide a convenient statistical approach for analyzing developmental data. In this study, we evaluate the robustness of such an approach in the context of accelerated longitudinal designs (ALDs). ALDs are especially interesting because they imply a very high rate of planned data missingness. Additionally, most longitudinal studies present unexpected participant attrition leading to unplanned missing data. Therefore, in ALDs, both sources of data missingness are combined. Previous research has shown that ALDs for developmental research allow recovering the population generating process. However, it is unknown how participant attrition impacts the model estimates. We have three goals: (a) to evaluate the robustness of the group-level parameter estimates in scenarios with empirically plausible unplanned data missingness; (b) to evaluate the performance of Kalman scores (KS) imputations for individual data points that were expected but unobserved; and (c) to evaluate the performance of KS imputations for individual data points that were outside the age ranged observed for each case (i.e., to estimate the individual trajectories for the complete age range under study). In general, results showed lack of bias in the simulated conditions. The variability of the estimates increased with lower sample sizes and higher missingness severity. Similarly, we found very accurate estimates of individual scores for both planned and unplanned missing data points. These results are very important for applied practitioners in terms of forecasting and making individual-level decisions. R code is provided to facilitate its implementation by applied researchers. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).