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In a model where subjects are evaluated over time and a baseline (time=0) covariate is used (eg, score ~ baseline + group + time + group*time), it seems that baseline data are often suggested to be excluded from the dependent variable (eg, score). But excluding baseline data would seem to decrease the model accuracy.

The above model is statistically equivalent to a change from baseline analysis (eg, change from baseline ~ baseline + group + time + group*time). If time = 0 is not excluded, then all groups have change from baseline of 0 at time = 0, and the argument is that the 100% homogeneity at time = 0 biases the results.

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An additional point not mentioned in the other answers is that when you include the baseline measurement as a covariate into the model you assume a constant correlation of this measurement with all subsequent measurements, which most often is not logical to assume.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a very good point, Dimitris, and is another reason tcb2 may want to move over to an SEM framework if they are intent on including baseline in their model. In SEM one can test whether a model in which that correlation is constrained to be the same for all subsequent measurements is a better fit to the data relative to a model in which you freely estimate the correlation at each occasion. $\endgroup$ – Erik Ruzek Jul 24 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with Dimitris and perhaps Erik is right, tho Model 2 in User158565's answer is the de facto standard in most clinical trials, which often correctly assume that the higher the baseline (up to a point where the disease is too severe to modify), the more likely the drug is to effect change from baseline over time. Conversely, the lower the baseline, the drug is less likely to have a large effect over time given proximity to the scale floor. $\endgroup$ – tcb2 Jul 29 at 16:23
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You have 3 choices:

Model 1: score ~ group + time + group*time) including baseline measurement

Model 2: score ~ baseline + group + time + group*time) excluding baseline measurement

Model 3: (score - baseline)~ group + time + group*time) excluding baseline measurement

Of course, you need to incorporate the correlation of the error terms into the model indirectly by specifying random effect, or directly by specifying covariance matrix of error terms, both.

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  • $\begingroup$ Model 2 is the question at hand. Why exclude baseline measurement? $\endgroup$ – tcb2 Jul 23 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ Basically, one variable cannot be the response variable and covariate, even for part of the observations. Mixed model accepts unequal number of observations from subjects. Suppose 90% subjects only have baseline, then what will happen if baseline appears in both sides of model. $\endgroup$ – user158565 Jul 24 at 0:52
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The advice is to not include lagged dependent variables as fixed effects predictors in a longitudinal mixed model. See here.* Technically, you are not doing that with your formulation, however I would still be careful with this. One workaround might be to switch to a structural equation modeling (SEM) framework, particularly if you have few time points. This would allow you to specify regression paths from your baseline score to each of the subsequent scores. The extent to which your theory is contingent on the baseline effect being present would determine whether the switch to SEM makes sense.

*It may be worth posting this question to Paul Allison in that blog post. I know from firsthand experience that Paul is very responsive to questions. If you do so, please report back on what he says!

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