The analysis of multivariate recurrent events with partially missing event types
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In many clinical studies, subjects are at risk of experiencing more than one type of potentially recurrent event. In some situations, however, the occurrence of an event is observed, but the specific type is not determined. We consider the analysis of this type of incomplete data when the objectives are to summarize features of conditional intensity functions and associated treatment effects, and to study the association between different types of event. Here we describe a likelihood approach based on joint models for the multi-type recurrent events where parameter estimation is obtained from a Monte-Carlo EM algorithm. Simulation studies show that the proposed method gives unbiased estimators for regression coefficients and variance-covariance parameters, and the coverage probabilities of confidence intervals for regression coefficients are close to the nominal level. When the distribution of the frailty variable is misspecified, the method still provides estimators of the regression coefficients with good properties. The proposed method is applied to a motivating data set from an asthma study in which exacerbations were to be sub-typed by cellular analysis of sputum samples as eosinophilic or non-eosinophilic.
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