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Stat Methods Med Res. 2016 Apr;25(2):775-92. doi: 10.1177/0962280212466089. Epub 2012 Nov 18.

Maximum likelihood estimation of time to first event in the presence of data gaps and multiple events.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
  • 2Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.
  • 3Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
  • 4Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.


We propose a novel likelihood method for analyzing time-to-event data when multiple events and multiple missing data intervals are possible prior to the first observed event for a given subject. This research is motivated by data obtained from a heart monitor used to track the recovery process of subjects experiencing an acute myocardial infarction. The time to first recovery, T1, is defined as the time when the ST-segment deviation first falls below 50% of the previous peak level. Estimation of T1 is complicated by data gaps during monitoring and the possibility that subjects can experience more than one recovery. If gaps occur prior to the first observed event, T, the first observed recovery may not be the subject's first recovery. We propose a parametric gap likelihood function conditional on the gap locations to estimate T1 Standard failure time methods that do not fully utilize the data are compared to the gap likelihood method by analyzing data from an actual study and by simulation. The proposed gap likelihood method is shown to be more efficient and less biased than interval censoring and more efficient than right censoring if data gaps occur early in the monitoring process or are short in duration.


Accelerated life test; censored data; continuous ECG monitoring; missing data; multiple events; survival analysis

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