A mixed model approach for intent-to-treat analysis in longitudinal clinical trials with missing values
Missing values and dropouts are common issues in longitudinal studies in all areas of medicine and public health. Intent-to-treat (ITT) analysis has become a widely accepted method for the analysis of controlled clinical trials. In most controlled clinical trials, some patients do not complete their intended followup according to the protocol for a variety of reasons; this problem generates missing values. Missing values lead to concern and confusion in identifying the ITT population, which makes the data analysis more complex and challenging. No adequate strategy exists for ITT analyses of longitudinal controlled clinical trial data with missing values. Several ad hoc strategies for dealing with missing values for an ITT analysis are common in the practice of controlled clinical trials. We performed a detailed investigation based on simulation studies to develop recommendations for this situation. We compared sizes (type I errors) and power between some popular ad hoc approaches and the linear mixed model approach under different missing value scenarios. Our results suggest that, for studies with a high percentage of missing values, the mixed model approach without any ad hoc imputation is more powerful than other options.