Multiple imputation of a randomly censored covariate improves logistic regression analysis

Folefac D. Atem, Jing Qian, Jacqueline E. Maye, Keith A. Johnson, Rebecca A. Betensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Randomly censored covariates arise frequently in epidemiologic studies. The most commonly used methods, including complete case and single imputation or substitution, suffer from inefficiency and bias. They make strong parametric assumptions or they consider limit of detection censoring only. We employ multiple imputation, in conjunction with semi-parametric modeling of the censored covariate, to overcome these shortcomings and to facilitate robust estimation. We develop a multiple imputation approach for randomly censored covariates within the framework of a logistic regression model. We use the non-parametric estimate of the covariate distribution or the semi-parametric Cox model estimate in the presence of additional covariates in the model. We evaluate this procedure in simulations, and compare its operating characteristics to those from the complete case analysis and a survival regression approach. We apply the procedures to an Alzheimer's study of the association between amyloid positivity and maternal age of onset of dementia. Multiple imputation achieves lower standard errors and higher power than the complete case approach under heavy and moderate censoring and is comparable under light censoring. The survival regression approach achieves the highest power among all procedures, but does not produce interpretable estimates of association. Multiple imputation offers a favorable alternative to complete case analysis and ad hoc substitution methods in the presence of randomly censored covariates within the framework of logistic regression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2886-2896
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Statistics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Nov 17 2016


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • age of onset
  • complete case analysis
  • limit of detection
  • reverse survival regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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