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Multivariate Behav Res. 1994 Oct 1;29(4):313-38. doi: 10.1207/s15327906mbr2904_1.

Modeling Incomplete Longitudinal Substance Use Data Using Latent Variable Growth Curve Methodology.


Longitudinal data sets typically suffer from attrition and other forms of missing data. When this common problem occurs, several researchers have demonstrated that correct maximum likelihood estimation with missing data can be obtained under mild assumptions concerning the missing data mechanism. With reasonable substantive theory, a mixture of cross-sectional and longitudinal methods developed within multiple-group structural equation modeling can provide a strong basis for inference about developmental change. Using an approach to the analysis of missing data, the present study investigated developmental trends in adolescent (N = 759) alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette use across a 5-year period using multiple-group latent growth modeling. An associative model revealed that common developmental trends existed for all three substances. Age and gender were included in the model as predictors of initial status and developmental change. Findings discuss the utility of latent variable structural equation modeling techniques and missing data approaches in the study of developmental change.


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