Joint modelling of longitudinal processes and time-to-event outcomes in heart failure: systematic review and exemplar examining the relationship between serum digoxin levels and mortality


Background: Joint modelling combines two or more statistical models to reduce bias and increase efficiency. As the use of joint modelling increases it is important to understand how and why it is being applied to heart failure research. Methods: A systematic review of major medical databases of studies which used joint modelling within heart failure alongside an exemplar; joint modelling repeat measurements of serum digoxin with all-cause mortality using data from the Effect of Digoxin on Mortality and Morbidity in Patients with Heart Failure (DIG) trial. Results: Overall, 28 studies were included that used joint models, 25 (89%) used data from cohort studies, the remaining 3 (11%) using data from clinical trials. 21 (75%) of the studies used biomarkers and the remaining studies used imaging parameters and functional parameters. The exemplar findings show that a per unit increase of square root serum digoxin is associated with the hazard of all-cause mortality increasing by 1.77 (1.34?2.33) times when adjusting for clinically relevant covariates. Conclusion: Recently, there has been a rise in publications of joint modelling being applied to heart failure. Where appropriate, joint models should be preferred over traditional models allowing for the inclusion of repeated measures while accounting for the biological nature of biomarkers and measurement error.

BMC Medical Research Methodology