Statistical Approaches for Handling Missing Data in Cluster Randomized Trials
AuthorFiero, Mallorie H.
Pattern mixture model
Cluster randomized trials
AdvisorBell, Melanie L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn cluster randomized trials (CRTs), groups of participants are randomized as opposed to individual participants. This design is often chosen to minimize treatment arm contamination or to enhance compliance among participants. In CRTs, we cannot assume independence among individuals within the same cluster because of their similarity, which leads to decreased statistical power compared to individually randomized trials. The intracluster correlation coefficient (ICC) is crucial in the design and analysis of CRTs, and measures the proportion of total variance due to clustering. Missing data is a common problem in CRTs and should be accommodated with appropriate statistical techniques because they can compromise the advantages created by randomization and are a potential source of bias. In three papers, I investigate statistical approaches for handling missing data in CRTs. In the first paper, I carry out a systematic review evaluating current practice of handling missing data in CRTs. The results show high rates of missing data in the majority of CRTs, yet handling of missing data remains suboptimal. Fourteen (16%) of the 86 reviewed trials reported carrying out a sensitivity analysis for missing data. Despite suggestions to weaken the missing data assumption from the primary analysis, only five of the trials weakened the assumption. None of the trials reported using missing not at random (MNAR) models. Due to the low proportion of CRTs reporting an appropriate sensitivity analysis for missing data, the second paper aims to facilitate performing a sensitivity analysis for missing data in CRTs by extending the pattern mixture approach for missing clustered data under the MNAR assumption. I implement multilevel multiple imputation (MI) in order to account for the hierarchical structure found in CRTs, and multiply imputed values by a sensitivity parameter, k, to examine parameters of interest under different missing data assumptions. The simulation results show that estimates of parameters of interest in CRTs can vary widely under different missing data assumptions. A high proportion of missing data can occur among CRTs because missing data can be found at the individual level as well as the cluster level. In the third paper, I use a simulation study to compare missing data strategies to handle missing cluster level covariates, including the linear mixed effects model, single imputation, single level MI ignoring clustering, MI incorporating clusters as fixed effects, and MI at the cluster level using aggregated data. The results show that when the ICC is small (ICC ≤ 0.1) and the proportion of missing data is low (≤ 25\%), the mixed model generates unbiased estimates of regression coefficients and ICC. When the ICC is higher (ICC > 0.1), MI at the cluster level using aggregated data performs well for missing cluster level covariates, though caution should be taken if the percentage of missing data is high.
Degree ProgramGraduate College