Using the general linear mixed model to analyse unbalanced repeated measures and longitudinal data

Stat Med. 1997 Oct 30;16(20):2349-80. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0258(19971030)16:20<2349::aid-sim667>;2-e.


The general linear mixed model provides a useful approach for analysing a wide variety of data structures which practising statisticians often encounter. Two such data structures which can be problematic to analyse are unbalanced repeated measures data and longitudinal data. Owing to recent advances in methods and software, the mixed model analysis is now readily available to data analysts. The model is similar in many respects to ordinary multiple regression, but because it allows correlation between the observations, it requires additional work to specify models and to assess goodness-of-fit. The extra complexity involved is compensated for by the additional flexibility it provides in model fitting. The purpose of this tutorial is to provide readers with a sufficient introduction to the theory to understand the method and a more extensive discussion of model fitting and checking in order to provide guidelines for its use. We provide two detailed case studies, one a clinical trial with repeated measures and dropouts, and one an epidemiological survey with longitudinal follow-up.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models*
  • Longitudinal Studies*
  • Lung / growth & development
  • Research Design


  • Antipsychotic Agents