This article studies a general joint model for longitudinal measurements and competing risks survival data. The model consists of a linear mixed effects sub-model for the longitudinal outcome, a proportional cause-specific hazards frailty sub-model for the competing risks survival data, and a regression sub-model for the variance-covariance matrix of the multivariate latent random effects based on a modified Cholesky decomposition. The model provides a useful approach to adjust for non-ignorable missing data due to dropout for the longitudinal outcome, enables analysis of the survival outcome with informative censoring and intermittently measured time-dependent covariates, as well as joint analysis of the longitudinal and survival outcomes. Unlike previously studied joint models, our model allows for heterogeneous random covariance matrices. It also offers a framework to assess the homogeneous covariance assumption of existing joint models. A Bayesian MCMC procedure is developed for parameter estimation and inference. Its performances and frequentist properties are investigated using simulations. A real data example is used to illustrate the usefulness of the approach.
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