Exploring Longitudinal Data on Change

Judith D. Singer and John B. Willett

in Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195152968
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199864980 | DOI:
Exploring Longitudinal Data on Change

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This chapter describes exploratory analyses that can help researchers learn how different individuals in their sample change over time. These analyses serve two purposes: to identify important features of data and to prepare researchers for subsequent model-based analyses. Section 2.2 addresses the within-person question: How does each person change over time? It does this by exploring and summarizing empirical growth records, which list each individual's outcome values over time. Section 2.3 addresses the between-person question: How does individual change differ across people? This is done by exploring whether different people change in similar or different ways. Section 2.4 shows how to ascertain descriptively whether observed differences in change across people (interindividual differences in change) are associated with individual characteristics. These between-person explorations can help identify variables that may ultimately prove to be important predictors of change. Section 2.5 concludes by examining the reliability and precision of exploratory estimates of change and comments on their implications for the design of longitudinal studies.

Keywords: longitudinal data; individual change; exploratory analyses; longitudinal studies; outcome values

Chapter.  9436 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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