Missing data

Mixed models are much more flexible than fixed effects models in the treatment of missing values. For example, in a two-period, cross-over trial, information on subjects with one value missing is completely lost when a fixed effects analysis is used. In contrast, mixed models are capable of handling the imbalance caused by missing observations provided that they are missing at random. This is often a reasonable assumption to make. If a subject withdraws from a cross-over trial after receiving one treatment, then we may have no idea of how the subject would have responded to the other treatments, and to handle these non-observed periods as if they were missing at random seems eminently sensible. It is helpful at this stage to classify missing data into one of three widely used categories.

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