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Initial Status in Growth Curve Modeling for Randomized Trials

The growth curve modeling (GCM) technique has been widely adopted in longitudinal studies to investigate progression over time. The simplest growth profile involves two growth factors, initial status (intercept) and growth trajectory (slope). Conventionally, all repeated measures of outcome are included as components of the growth profile, and the first measure is used to reflect the initial status. Selection of the initial status, however, can greatly influence study findings, especially for randomized trials. In this article, we propose an alternative GCM approach involving only post-intervention measures in the growth profile and treating the first wave after intervention as the initial status. We discuss and empirically illustrate how choices of initial status may influence study conclusions in addressing research questions in randomized trials using two longitudinal studies. Data from two randomized trials are used to illustrate that the alternative GCM approach proposed in this article offers better model fitting and more meaningful results.

Authors: Chou CP; Chi F; Weisner C; Pentz M; Hser YI

J Drug Issues. 2010 Dec;40(1):155-172.

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