Missing data reporting in clinical pharmacy research

Sujita W. Narayan, Kar Yu Ho, Jonathan Penm, Barbara Mintzes, Ardalan Mirzaei, Carl Schneider, Asad E. Patanwala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study aimed to document the ways by which missing data were handled in clinical pharmacy research to provide an insight into the amount of attention paid to the importance of missing data in this field of research. Methods: Our cross-sectional descriptive report evaluated 10 journals affiliated with pharmacy organizations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies published in 2018 were included. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of studies that reported the handling of missing data in their methods or results. Results: A total of 178 studies were included in the analysis. Of these, 19.7% (n = 35) mentioned missing data either in their methods (3.4%, n = 6), results (15.2%, n = 27), or in both sections (1.1%, n = 2). Only 4.5% (n = 8) of the studies mentioned how they handled missing data, the most common method being multiple imputation (n = 3), followed by indicator (n = 2), complete case analysis (n = 2), and simple imputation (n = 1). One study using multiple imputation and both studies using an indicator method also combined other strategies to account for missing data. One study only used complete case analysis for subgroup analysis, and the other study only used this method if a specific baseline variable was missing. Conclusions: Very few studies in clinical pharmacy literature report any handling of missing data. This has the potential to lead to biased results. We advocate that researchers should report how missing data were handled to increase the transparency of findings and minimize bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2048-2052
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2 2019


  • bias
  • data
  • guideline
  • pharmacy
  • research report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology
  • Health Policy


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