Best (but oft-forgotten) practices: Missing data methods in randomized controlled nutrition trials

Abstract

Missing data ubiquitously occur in randomized controlled trials and may compromise the causal inference if inappropriately handled. Some problematic missing data methods such as complete case (CC) analysis and last-observation-carried-forward (LOCF) are unfortunately still common in nutrition trials. This situation is partially caused by investigator confusion on missing data assumptions for different methods. In this statistical guidance, we provide a brief introduction of missing data mechanisms and the unreasonable assumptions that underlie CC and LOCF and recommend 2 appropriate missing data methods, multiple imputation and full information maximum likelihood.

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Elizabeth A. Stuart
Associate Dean for Education | Professor

Trained as a statistician, my primary research interests are in the development and use of methodology to better design and analyze the causal effects of public health and educational interventions. In this way I hope to bridge statistical advances and research practice, working with mental health and educational researchers to identify and solve methodological challenges.

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