Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Marginal Pairwise Associations with Multiple Source Predictors



Researchers interested in the association of a predictor with an outcome will often collect information about that predictor from more than one source. Standard multiple regression methods allow estimation of the effect of each predictor on the outcome while controlling for the remaining predictors. The resulting regression coefficient for each predictor has an interpretation that is conditional on all other predictors. In settings in which interest is in comparison of the marginal pairwise relationships between each predictor and the outcome separately (e.g., studies in psychiatry with multiple informants or comparison of the predictive values of diagnostic tests), standard regression methods are not appropriate. Instead, the generalized estimating equations (GEE) approach can be used to simultaneously estimate, and make comparisons among, the separate pairwise marginal associations. In this paper, we consider maximum likelihood (ML) estimation of these marginal relationships when the outcome is binary. ML enjoys benefits over GEE methods in that it is asymptotically efficient, can accommodate missing data that are ignorable, and allows likelihood-based inferences about the pairwise marginal relationships. We also explore the asymptotic relative efficiency of ML and GEE methods in this setting. (© 2006 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)