Joint Modeling of Event Time and Nonignorable Missing Longitudinal Data

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Survival studies usually collect on each participant, both duration until some terminal event and repeated measures of a time-dependent covariate. Such a covariate is referred to as an internal time-dependent covariate. Usually, some subjects drop out of the study before occurence of the terminal event of interest. One may then wish to evaluate the relationship between time to dropout and the internal covariate. The Cox model is a standard framework for that purpose. Here, we address this problem in situations where the value of the covariate at dropout is unobserved. We suggest a joint model which combines a first-order Markov model for the longitudinaly measured covariate with a time-dependent Cox model for the dropout process. We consider maximum likelihood estimation in this model and show how estimation can be carried out via the EM-algorithm. We state that the suggested joint model may have applications in the context of longitudinal data with nonignorable dropout. Indeed, it can be viewed as generalizing Diggle and Kenward's model (1994) to situations where dropout may occur at any point in time and may be censored. Hence we apply both models and compare their results on a data set concerning longitudinal measurements among patients in a cancer clinical trial.

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