Methods: We develop two geographic imputation techniques which we adapt for activity space data from hot deck and centroid imputation approaches initially developed for non-spatial data and geocoding imputation. To test these techniques, we use GEMA data from a previously published analysis of the effect of neighborhood disadvantage, captured at the U.S. Census Bureau tract level, on momentary psychological stress among a sample of 137 urban adolescents (Mennis et al., 2016, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 165, pp. 288-292). We test models of both direct and moderated effects of disadvantage on stress. We investigate the impact of geographic imputation, as well as listwise deletion, on model results.
Results: We found that listwise deletion altered the magnitude, significance, and standard errors of the disadvantage coefficient, particularly in situations where half the observations contained missing location data, and when estimating the significance and standard errors of the moderated effect. These impacts were ameliorated to some extent by using geographic imputation, particularly in mitigating the inflation of the standard errors, though results were more variable regarding the tests of moderation. We found that the activity space centroid imputation technique consistently outperformed hot deck imputation, though the difference was relatively modest.
Conclusions: These geographic imputation techniques may be extended in future research by incorporating regression-based and multiple imputation approaches from the non-spatial imputation literature, as well as from conventional geographic imputation and spatial interpolation research which focus on non-activity space spatial data.