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Sensitivity Analysis for Not-at-Random Missing Data in Trial-Based Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: A Tutorial

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  • Baptiste Leurent
  • Manuel Gomes
  • Rita Faria
  • Stephen Morris
  • Richard Grieve
  • James R Carpenter


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 14 Mar 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2018
DatePublished (current) - Aug 2018
Issue number8
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)889-901
Early online date20/04/18
Original languageEnglish


Cost-effectiveness analyses (CEA) of randomised controlled trials are a key source of information for health care decision makers. Missing data are, however, a common issue that can seriously undermine their validity. A major concern is that the chance of data being missing may be directly linked to the unobserved value itself [missing not at random (MNAR)]. For example, patients with poorer health may be less likely to complete quality-of-life questionnaires. However, the extent to which this occurs cannot be ascertained from the data at hand. Guidelines recommend conducting sensitivity analyses to assess the robustness of conclusions to plausible MNAR assumptions, but this is rarely done in practice, possibly because of a lack of practical guidance. This tutorial aims to address this by presenting an accessible framework and practical guidance for conducting sensitivity analysis for MNAR data in trial-based CEA. We review some of the methods for conducting sensitivity analysis, but focus on one particularly accessible approach, where the data are multiply-imputed and then modified to reflect plausible MNAR scenarios. We illustrate the implementation of this approach on a weight-loss trial, providing the software code. We then explore further issues around its use in practice.

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© The Author(s) 2018

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