Thompson CA, Boothroyd DB, Hastings KG, Cullen MR, Palaniappan LP, Rehkopf DH., Am J Epidemiol. 187(2):347-357. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx215., 2018 Feb 01
The incomparability of old and new classification systems for describing the same data can be seen as a missing-data problem, and, under certain assumptions, multiple imputation may be used to "bridge" 2 classification systems. One example of such a change is the introduction of detailed Asian-American race/ethnicity classifications on the 2003 version of the US national death certificate, which was adopted for use by 38 states between 2003 and 2011.
Using county- and decedent-level data from 3 different national sources for pre- and postadoption years, we fitted within-state multiple-imputation models to impute ethnicities for decedents classified as "other Asian" during preadoption years. We present mortality rates derived using 3 different methods of calculation: 1) including all states but ignoring the gradual adoption of the new death certificate over time, 2) including only the 7 states with complete reporting of all ethnicities, and 3) including all states and applying multiple imputation.
Estimates from our imputation model were consistently in the middle of the other 2 estimates, and trend results demonstrated that the year-by-year estimates of the imputation model were more similar to those of the 7-state model. This work demonstrates how multiple imputation can provide a "forward bridging" approach to make more accurate estimates over time in newly categorized populations.