A comparison of Markov and generalized linear models of hospital mortality

Michael Lee Johnson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This paper reports a comparison of three modeling strategies for the analysis of hospital mortality in a sample of general medicine inpatients in a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center. Logistic regression, a Markov chain model, and longitudinal logistic regression were evaluated on predictive performance as measured by the c-index and on accuracy of expected numbers of deaths compared to observed. The logistic regression used patient information collected at admission; the Markov model was comprised of two absorbing states for discharge and death and three transient states reflecting increasing severity of illness as measured by laboratory data collected during the hospital stay; longitudinal regression employed Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) to model covariance structure for the repeated binary outcome. Results showed that the logistic regression predicted hospital mortality as well as the alternative methods but was limited in scope of application. The Markov chain provides insights into how day to day changes of illness severity lead to discharge or death. The longitudinal logistic regression showed that increasing illness trajectory is associated with hospital mortality. The conclusion is reached that for standard applications in modeling hospital mortality, logistic regression is adequate, but for new challenges facing health services research today, alternative methods are equally predictive, practical, and can provide new insights.

Subject Area

Biostatistics|Public health

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Michael Lee, "A comparison of Markov and generalized linear models of hospital mortality" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9929463.