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Yonsei Med J. 2004 Oct 31;45(5):829-37.

Multiple imputation technique applied to appropriateness ratings in cataract surgery.

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Department of Information Statistics, Pyongtaek University, 111 Yongyi-dong, Pyongtaek, Kyungki-do 450-701, Korea.


Missing data such as appropriateness ratings in clinical research are a common problem and this often yields a biased result. This paper aims to introduce the multiple imputation method to handle missing data in clinical research and to suggest that the multiple imputation technique can give more accurate estimates than those of a complete-case analysis. The idea of multiple imputation is that each missing value is replaced with more than one plausible value. The appropriateness method was developed as a pragmatic solution to problem of trying to assess "appropriate" surgical and medical procedures for patients. Cataract surgery was selected as one of four procedures that were evaluated as a part of the Clinical Appropriateness Initiative. We created mild to high missing rates of 10%, 30% and 50% and compared the performance of logistic regression in cataract surgery. We treated the coefficients in the original data as true parameters and compared them with the other results. In the mild missing rate (10%), the deviation from the true coefficients was quite small and ignorable. After removing the missing data, the complete-case analysis did not reveal any serious bias. However, as the missing rate increased, the bias was not ignorable and it distorted the result. This simulation study suggests that a multiple imputation technique can give more accurate estimates than those of a complete-case analysis, especially for moderate to high missing rates (30 - 50%). In addition, the multiple imputation technique yields better accuracy than a single imputation technique. Therefore, multiple imputation is useful and efficient for a situation in clinical research where there is large amounts of missing data.

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