Missing data: a systematic review of how they are reported and handled.
The objectives of this systematic review are to examine how researchers report missing data in questionnaires and to provide an overview of current methods for dealing with missing data. We included 262 studies published in 2010 in 3 leading epidemiologic journals. Information was extracted on how missing data were reported, types of missing, and methods for dealing with missing data. Seventy-eight percent of the studies lacked clear information about the measurement instruments. Missing data in multi-item instruments were not handled differently from other missing data. Complete-case analysis was most frequently reported (81% of the studies), and the selectivity of missing data was seldom examined. Although there are specific methods for handling missing data in item scores and in total scores of multi-item instruments, these are seldom applied. Researchers mainly use complete-case analysis for both types of missing, which may seriously bias the study results.