Impact of missing data on bias and precision when estimating change in patient-reported outcomes from a clinical registry

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Ayilara, Olawale F
Zhang, Lisa
Sajobi, Tolulope T
Sawatzky, Richard
Bohm, Eric
Lix, Lisa M
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Abstract Background Clinical registries, which capture information about the health and healthcare use of patients with a health condition or treatment, often contain patient-reported outcomes (PROs) that provide insights about the patient’s perspectives on their health. Missing data can affect the value of PRO data for healthcare decision-making. We compared the precision and bias of several missing data methods when estimating longitudinal change in PRO scores. Methods This research conducted analyses of clinical registry data and simulated data. Registry data were from a population-based regional joint replacement registry for Manitoba, Canada; the study cohort consisted of 5631 patients having total knee arthroplasty between 2009 and 2015. PROs were measured using the 12-item Short Form Survey, version 2 (SF-12v2) at pre- and post-operative occasions. The simulation cohort was a subset of 3000 patients from the study cohort with complete PRO information at both pre- and post-operative occasions. Linear mixed-effects models based on complete case analysis (CCA), maximum likelihood (ML) and multiple imputation (MI) without and with an auxiliary variable (MI-Aux) were used to estimate longitudinal change in PRO scores. In the simulated data, bias, root mean squared error (RMSE), and 95% confidence interval (CI) coverage and width were estimated under varying amounts and types of missing data. Results Three thousand two hundred thirty (57.4%) patients in the study cohort had complete data on the SF-12v2 at both occasions. In this cohort, mixed-effects models based on CCA resulted in substantially wider 95% CIs than models based on ML and MI methods. The latter two methods produced similar estimates and 95% CI widths. In the simulation cohort, when 50% of the data were missing, the MI-Aux method, in which a single hypothetical auxiliary variable was strongly correlated (i.e., 0.8) with the outcome, reduced the 95% CI width by up to 14% and bias and RMSE by up to 50 and 45%, respectively, when compared with the MI method. Conclusions Missing data can substantially affect the precision of estimated change in PRO scores from clinical registry data. Inclusion of auxiliary information in MI models can increase precision and reduce bias, but identifying the optimal auxiliary variable(s) may be challenging.
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes. 2019 Jun 20;17(1):106