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Selective attrition does not affect cross-sectional estimates of associations with emotional and behavioral problems in a longitudinal study with onset in adolescence


Steinhausen, Hans-Christoph; Spitz, Andrea; Aebi, Marcel; Metzke, Christa Winkler; Walitza, Susanne (2020). Selective attrition does not affect cross-sectional estimates of associations with emotional and behavioral problems in a longitudinal study with onset in adolescence. Psychiatry Research, 284:112685.

Abstract

The present examination raises the question whether attrition in a longitudinal study leads to biased findings. The Zurich Adolescent Psychology and Psychopathology Study (ZAPPS) originated in 1994 by following a sample of 1239 adolescents with follow-ups after three, six, and 22 years. The study collected data on life-events, self-esteem, and coping behavior as independent and mental problems as dependent variables. The baseline sample was partitioned according to follow-up status for the three subsequent waves of assessment. Baseline measures of associations between independent and dependent variables were compared for those retained in the study (group A) and those lost to follow-up (group B) at each phase of cross-sectional data collection by use of multiple linear regression analyses. There were significant differences for some baseline independent variables between the two groups with small effect sizes. Males and migrants dropped out more frequently. The main findings indicated that the strength of the associations between independent and dependent variables at baseline in the total sample and in each of the two groups as defined by sample sizes at the three follow-ups was close to equal. Thus, one may conclude from the current study that attrition in longitudinal studies rarely affects cross-sectional estimates of associations.

Abstract

The present examination raises the question whether attrition in a longitudinal study leads to biased findings. The Zurich Adolescent Psychology and Psychopathology Study (ZAPPS) originated in 1994 by following a sample of 1239 adolescents with follow-ups after three, six, and 22 years. The study collected data on life-events, self-esteem, and coping behavior as independent and mental problems as dependent variables. The baseline sample was partitioned according to follow-up status for the three subsequent waves of assessment. Baseline measures of associations between independent and dependent variables were compared for those retained in the study (group A) and those lost to follow-up (group B) at each phase of cross-sectional data collection by use of multiple linear regression analyses. There were significant differences for some baseline independent variables between the two groups with small effect sizes. Males and migrants dropped out more frequently. The main findings indicated that the strength of the associations between independent and dependent variables at baseline in the total sample and in each of the two groups as defined by sample sizes at the three follow-ups was close to equal. Thus, one may conclude from the current study that attrition in longitudinal studies rarely affects cross-sectional estimates of associations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Life Sciences > Biological Psychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biological Psychiatry, Psychiatry and Mental health
Language:English
Date:1 February 2020
Deposited On:08 Jan 2020 10:41
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 12:07
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0165-1781
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2019.112685

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