You are here: Home / Publications / Articles / Multiple imputation of missing covariate values in multilevel models with random slopes: A cautionary note
Multiple imputation of missing covariate values in multilevel models with random slopes: A cautionary note
Grund, S., Lüdtke, O., Robitzsch, A.

Multiple imputation of missing covariate values in multilevel models with random slopes: A cautionary note

Behavior Research Methods. 10.3758/s13428-015-0590-3

Multiple imputation (MI) has become one of the main procedures used to treat missing data, but the guidelines from the methodological literature are not easily transferred to multilevel research. For models including random slopes, proper MI can be difficult, especially when the covariate values are partially missing. In the present article, we discuss applications of MI in multilevel random-coefficient models, theoretical challenges posed by slope variation, and the current limitations of standard MI software. Our findings from three simulation studies suggest that (a) MI is able to recover most parameters, but is currently not well suited to capture slope variation entirely when covariate values are missing; (b) MI offers reasonable estimates for most parameters, even in smaller samples or when its assumptions are not met; and
(c) listwise deletion can be an alternative worth considering when preserving the slope variance is particularly important.