# A handy guide to joint modeling for biomedical researchers

2 mins

In the world of biomedical research, uncovering the intricate relationships between different variables is crucial for gaining insights into complex diseases, treatment effectiveness, and patient outcomes. One powerful technique that has gained prominence in recent years is joint modeling. In this blog post, we will break down the concept of joint modeling in simple terms and explain its significance for biomedical researchers.

What is Joint Modeling?

Joint modeling, in essence, is a statistical approach that allows researchers to simultaneously analyze multiple aspects of a dataset. It’s like looking at multiple pieces of a jigsaw puzzle at the same time instead of one by one. By doing so, we can better understand how different elements in the biomedical field are connected. For example, Tong-Minh et al. (2022) attempted to predict disease severity in patients with COVID-19, by using joint modeling on repeated measurements of various biomarkers. Chesnaye et al. (2020) also provide an in-depth guide to how joint modeling can be used in nephrology research.

Components of Joint Modeling

Joint modeling often involves combining two key data types: longitudinal data and time-to-event data.

a. Longitudinal Data

When studying health-related data, we often gather information from patients over time. This is called longitudinal data, which could include repeated measurements of a patient’s condition, such as blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

b. Time-to-Event Data

In addition to longitudinal data, researchers often want to understand when certain events happen, like the onset of a disease or a patient’s recovery. This is known as time-to-event data, and it focuses on the timing of specific occurrences.

Joint modeling combines these two types of data to provide a more comprehensive understanding. Instead of analyzing them separately, which can lead to incomplete insights, joint modeling considers how changes in longitudinal data might predict when events will occur, and vice versa.

To better understand the structure of a joint model, you can refer to Ibrahim et al. (2010)’s detailed explanation of joint modeling, using oncology data.

Real-World Applications of Joint Modeling

Joint modeling has many practical applications in biomedical research:

a. Predicting Disease Progression

For conditions like cancer or neurodegenerative diseases, joint modeling can help predict how a patient’s health might deteriorate over time and estimate the time until specific events occur, such as disease relapse.

b. Personalized Medicine

In precision medicine, joint modeling can assist in tailoring treatment plans to individual patients, taking into account their unique characteristics, disease progression, and response to therapy.

c. Assessing Drug Efficacy

Biomedical researchers can use joint modeling to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs by assessing how they impact a patient’s condition over time and the likelihood of achieving specific health outcomes.

Challenges and Considerations

While joint modeling is a powerful tool, it’s not without challenges. Researchers need to carefully select appropriate statistical methods, handle missing data, and ensure the model’s assumptions are met. Collaboration with statisticians is often crucial to ensure the validity of results.

Conclusion

In biomedical research, joint modeling is a valuable approach for uncovering hidden connections between variables, improving patient outcomes, and advancing our understanding of complex diseases. By analyzing longitudinal and time-to-event data together, researchers can unlock new insights that might lead to more effective treatments, personalized medicine, and better healthcare overall. In short, joint modeling is a puzzle-solving technique that holds great promise for the future of medicine.

Ready to explore the potential of joint modeling in your research project? Work with an experienced biostatistician, under Editage’s Statistical Analysis & Review Services.

### Marisha Fonseca

An editor at heart and perfectionist by disposition, providing solutions for journals, publishers, and universities in areas like alt-text writing and publication consultancy.

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