Constrained inference in mixed-effects models for longitudinal data with application to hearing loss

Ori Davidov, Sophia Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In medical studies, endpoints are often measured for each patient longitudinally. The mixed-effects model has been a useful tool for the analysis of such data. There are situations in which the parameters of the model are subject to some restrictions or constraints. For example, in hearing loss studies, we expect hearing to deteriorate with time. This means that hearing thresholds which reflect hearing acuity will, on average, increase over time. Therefore, the regression coefficients associated with the mean effect of time on hearing ability will be constrained. Such constraints should be accounted for in the analysis. We propose maximum likelihood estimation procedures, based on the expectation-conditional maximization either algorithm, to estimate the parameters of the model while accounting for the constraints on them. The proposed methods improve, in terms of mean square error, on the unconstrained estimators. In some settings, the improvement may be substantial. Hypotheses testing procedures that incorporate the constraints are developed. Specifically, likelihood ratio, Wald, and score tests are proposed and investigated. Their empirical significance levels and power are studied using simulations. It is shown that incorporating the constraints improves the mean squared error of the estimates and the power of the tests. These improvements may be substantial. The methodology is used to analyze a hearing loss study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-340
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Constrained estimation
  • ECME & EM algorithms
  • Hearing loss
  • Longitudinal data
  • Mixed-effects models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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