Continuous(ly) missing outcome data in network meta-analysis : A one-stage pattern-mixture model approach
Appropriate handling of aggregate missing outcome data is necessary to minimise bias in the conclusions of systematic reviews. The two-stage pattern-mixture model has been already proposed to address aggregate missing continuous outcome data. While this approach is more proper compared with the exclusion of missing continuous outcome data and simple imputation methods, it does not offer flexible modelling of missing continuous outcome data to investigate their implications on the conclusions thoroughly. Therefore, we propose a one-stage pattern-mixture model approach under the Bayesian framework to address missing continuous outcome data in a network of interventions and gain knowledge about the missingness process in different trials and interventions. We extend the hierarchical network meta-analysis model for one aggregate continuous outcome to incorporate a missingness parameter that measures the departure from the missing at random assumption. We consider various effect size estimates for continuous data, and two informative missingness parameters, the informative missingness difference of means and the informative missingness ratio of means. We incorporate our prior belief about the missingness parameters while allowing for several possibilities of prior structures to account for the fact that the missingness process may differ in the network. The method is exemplified in two networks from published reviews comprising a different amount of missing continuous outcome data.