In some clinical trials and epidemiologic studies, investigators are interested in knowing whether the variability of a biomarker is independently predictive of clinical outcomes. This question is often addressed via a naïve approach where a sample-based estimate (e. g., standard deviation) is calculated as a surrogate for the "true" variability and then used in regression models as a covariate assumed to be free of measurement error. However, it is well known that the measurement error in covariates causes underestimation of the true association. The issue of underestimation can be substantial when the precision is low because of limited number of measures per subject. The joint analysis of survival data and longitudinal data enables one to account for the measurement error in longitudinal data and has received substantial attention in recent years. In this paper we propose a joint model to assess the predictive effect of biomarker variability. The joint model consists of two linked sub-models, a linear mixed model with patient-specific variance for longitudinal data and a full parametric Weibull distribution for survival data, and the association between two models is induced by a latent Gaussian process. Parameters in the joint model are estimated under Bayesian framework and implemented using Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods with WinBUGS software. The method is illustrated in the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study to assess whether the variability of intraocular pressure is an independent risk of primary open-angle glaucoma. The performance of the method is also assessed by simulation studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-100
Number of pages18
JournalStatistical Methods and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Joint model
  • Longitudinal data
  • Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC)
  • Patient-specific variance
  • Survival data
  • WinBUGS


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