Methods for handling longitudinal outcome processes truncated by dropout and death.

03 Feb 2018

Cohort data are often incomplete because some subjects drop out of the study, and inverse probability weighting (IPW), multiple imputation (MI), and linear increments (LI) are methods that deal with such missing data. In cohort studies of ageing, missing data can arise from dropout or death. Methods that do not distinguish between these reasons for missingness typically provide inference about a hypothetical cohort where no one can die (immortal cohort). It has been suggested that inference about the cohort composed of those who are still alive at any time point (partly conditional inference) may be more meaningful. MI, LI, and IPW can all be adapted to provide partly conditional inference. In this article, we clarify and compare the assumptions required by these MI, LI, and IPW methods for partly conditional inference on continuous outcomes. We also propose augmented IPW estimators for making partly conditional inference. These are more efficient than IPW estimators and more robust to model misspecification. Our simulation studies show that the methods give approximately unbiased estimates of partly conditional estimands when their assumptions are met, but may be biased otherwise. We illustrate the application of the missing data methods using data from the 'Origins of Variance in the Old-old' Twin study.