Blood donors experience a temporary reduction in their hemoglobin (Hb) value after donation. At each visit, the Hb value is measured, and a too low Hb value leads to a deferral for donation. Because of the recovery process after each donation as well as state dependence and unobserved heterogeneity, longitudinal data of Hb values of blood donors provide unique statistical challenges. To estimate the shape and duration of the recovery process and to predict future Hb values, we employed three models for the Hb value: (i) a mixed-effects models; (ii) a latent-class mixed-effects model; and (iii) a latent-class mixed-effects transition model. In each model, a flexible function was used to model the recovery process after donation. The latent classes identify groups of donors with fast or slow recovery times and donors whose recovery time increases with the number of donations. The transition effect accounts for possible state dependence in the observed data. All models were estimated in a Bayesian way, using data of new entrant donors from the Donor InSight study. Informative priors were used for parameters of the recovery process that were not identified using the observed data, based on results from the clinical literature. The results show that the latent-class mixed-effects transition model fits the data best, which illustrates the importance of modeling state dependence, unobserved heterogeneity, and the recovery process after donation. The estimated recovery time is much longer than the current minimum interval between donations, suggesting that an increase of this interval may be warranted.

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Statistics in Medicine
Department of Biostatistics

Nasserinejad, K., van Rosmalen, J., de Kort, W., Rizopoulos, D., & Lesaffre, E. (2015). Prediction of hemoglobin in blood donors using a latent class mixed-effects transition model. Statistics in Medicine, 35(4), 581–594. doi:10.1002/sim.6759