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Lifetime Data Anal. 2006 Sep;12(3):249-65. Epub 2006 Aug 2.

Marginal regression models with a time to event outcome and discrete multiple source predictors.

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New England Research Institutes, 9 Galen Street, Watertown, MA 02472, USA.


Information from multiple informants is frequently used to assess psychopathology. We consider marginal regression models with multiple informants as discrete predictors and a time to event outcome. We fit these models to data from the Stirling County Study; specifically, the models predict mortality from self report of psychiatric disorders and also predict mortality from physician report of psychiatric disorders. Previously, Horton et al. found little relationship between self and physician reports of psychopathology, but that the relationship of self report of psychopathology with mortality was similar to that of physician report of psychopathology with mortality. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) have been used to fit marginal models with multiple informant covariates; here we develop a maximum likelihood (ML) approach and show how it relates to the GEE approach. In a simple setting using a saturated model, the ML approach can be constructed to provide estimates that match those found using GEE. We extend the ML technique to consider multiple informant predictors with missingness and compare the method to using inverse probability weighted (IPW) GEE. Our simulation study illustrates that IPW GEE loses little efficiency compared with ML in the presence of monotone missingness. Our example data has non-monotone missingness; in this case, ML offers a modest decrease in variance compared with IPW GEE, particularly for estimating covariates in the marginal models. In more general settings, e.g., categorical predictors and piecewise exponential models, the likelihood parameters from the ML technique do not have the same interpretation as the GEE. Thus, the GEE is recommended to fit marginal models for its flexibility, ease of interpretation and comparable efficiency to ML in the presence of missing data.

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