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Latent class models for longitudinal studies of the elderly with data missing at random

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The elderly population in the USA is expected to double in size by the year 2025, making longitudinal health studies of this population of increasing importance. The degree of loss to follow-up in studies of the elderly, which is often because elderly people cannot remain in the study, enter a nursing home or die, make longitudinal studies of this population problematic. We propose a latent class model for analysing multiple longitudinal binary health outcomes with multiple-cause non-response when the data are missing at random and a non-likelihood-based analysis is performed. We extend the estimating equations approach of Robins and co-workers to latent class models by reweighting the multiple binary longitudinal outcomes by the inverse probability of being observed. This results in consistent parameter estimates when the probability of non-response depends on observed outcomes and covariates (missing at random) assuming that the model for non-response is correctly specified. We extend the non-response model so that institutionalization, death and missingness due to failure to locate, refusal or incomplete data each have their own set of non-response probabilities. Robust variance estimates are derived which account for the use of a possibly misspecified covariance matrix, estimation of missing data weights and estimation of latent class measurement parameters. This approach is then applied to a study of lower body function among a subsample of the elderly participating in the 6-year Longitudinal Study of Aging.
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Keywords: Estimating equations; Latent class; Multiple longitudinal outcomes; Non-response models

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA, 2: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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