Quantifying Power and Bias in Cluster Randomized Trials Using Mixed Models vs. Cluster-Level Analysis in the Presence of Missing Data: A Simulation Study
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 are randomized to treatment arms rather than individuals while the outcome is assessed on the individuals within each cluster. Individuals within clusters tend to be more similar than in a randomly selected sample, which poses issues with dependence, which may lead to underestimated standard errors if ignored. To adjust for the correlation between individuals within clusters, two main approaches are used to analyze CRTs: cluster-level and individual-level analysis. In a cluster-level analysis summary measures are obtained for each cluster and then the two sets of cluster-specific measures are compared, such as with a t-test of the cluster means. A mixed model which takes into account cluster membership is an example of an individual-level analysis. We used a simulation study to quantify and compare power and bias of these two methods. We further take into account the effect of missing data. Complete datasets were generated and then data were deleted to simulate missing completely at random (MCAR) and missing at random (MAR) data. A balanced design, with two treatment groups and two time points was assumed. Cluster size, variance components (including within-subject, within-cluster and between-cluster variance) and proportion of missingness were varied to simulate common scenarios seen in practice. For each combination of parameters, 1,000 datasets were generated and analyzed. Results of our simulation study indicate that cluster-level analysis resulted in substantial loss of power when data were MAR. Individual-level analysis had higher power and remained unbiased, even with a small number of clusters.
Degree ProgramGraduate College