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Checking Assumptions in Latent Class Regression Models via a Markov Chain Monte Carlo Estimation Approach: An Application to Depression and Socio-Economic Status

Collection of Biostatistics Research Archive
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  • Latent Class
  • Conditional Independence
  • Non-Differential Measurement
  • Bayesian Estimation
  • Model Diagnosis
  • Numerical Analysis And Computation
  • Statistical Methodology
  • Statistical Models
  • Statistical Theory
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine


Latent class regression models are useful tools for assessing associations between covariates and latent variables. However, evaluation of key model assumptions cannot be performed using methods from standard regression models due to the unobserved nature of latent outcome variables. This paper presents graphical diagnostic tools to evaluate whether or not latent class regression models adhere to standard assumptions of the model: conditional independence and non-differential measurement. An integral part of these methods is the use of a Markov Chain Monte Carlo estimation procedure. Unlike standard maximum likelihood implementations for latent class regression model estimation, the MCMC approach allows us to calculate posterior distributions and point estimates of any functions of parameters. It is this convenience that allows us to provide the diagnostic methods that we introduce. As a motivating example we present an analysis focusing on the association between depression and socioeconomic status, using data from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study. We consider a latent class regression analysis investigating the association between depression and socioeconomic status measures, where the latent variable depression is regressed on education and income indicators, in addition to age, gender, and marital status variables. While the fitted latent class regression model yields interesting results, the model parameters are found to be invalid due to the violation of model assumptions. The violation of these assumptions is clearly identified by the presented diagnostic plots. These methods can be applied to standard latent class and latent class regression models, and the general principle can be extended to evaluate model assumptions in other types of models.

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