Estimating parameters in Markov models for longitudinal studies with missing data or surrogate outcomes

Hung-Wen Yeh, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The discrete-time Markov chain is commonly used in describing changes of health states for chronic diseases in a longitudinal study. Statistical inferences on comparing treatment effects or on finding determinants of disease progression usually require estimation of transition probabilities. In many situations when the outcome data have some missing observations or the variable of interest (called a latent variable) can not be measured directly, the estimation of transition probabilities becomes more complicated. In the latter case, a surrogate variable that is easier to access and can gauge the characteristics of the latent one is usually used for data analysis. This dissertation research proposes methods to analyze longitudinal data (1) that have categorical outcome with missing observations or (2) that use complete or incomplete surrogate observations to analyze the categorical latent outcome. For (1), different missing mechanisms were considered for empirical studies using methods that include EM algorithm, Monte Carlo EM and a procedure that is not a data augmentation method. For (2), the hidden Markov model with the forward-backward procedure was applied for parameter estimation. This method was also extended to cover the computation of standard errors. The proposed methods were demonstrated by the Schizophrenia example. The relevance of public health, the strength and limitations, and possible future research were also discussed.

Subject Area

Statistics|Public health

Recommended Citation

Yeh, Hung-Wen, "Estimating parameters in Markov models for longitudinal studies with missing data or surrogate outcomes" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3290040.