therapy; missing data; growth models; shared parameter mixture models


Objective—This study demonstrates how to use a shared parameter mixture model (SPMM) in longitudinal psychotherapy studies to accommodate missing that are due to a correlation between rate of improvement and termination of therapy. Traditional growth models assume that such a relationship does not exist (i.e., assume that data are missing at random) and will produce biased results if this assumption is incorrect. Method—We use longitudinal data from 4,676 patients enrolled in a naturalistic study of psychotherapy to compare results from a latent growth model and a shared parameter mixture model (SPMM). Results—In this dataset, estimates of the rate of improvement during therapy differ by 6.50 – 6.66% across the two models, indicating that participants with steeper trajectories left psychotherapy earliest, thereby potentially biasing inference for the slope in the latent growth model. Conclusion—We conclude that reported estimates of change during therapy may be underestimated in naturalistic studies of therapy in which participants and their therapists determine the end of treatment. Because non-randomly missing data can also occur in randomized controlled trials or in observational studies of development, the utility of the SPMM extends beyond naturalistic psychotherapy data.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Family, Home, and Social Sciences



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Psychology Commons