One-stage meta-analysis of individual participant data (IPD) poses several statistical and computational challenges. For time-to-event outcomes, the approach requires the estimation of complicated nonlinear mixed-effects models that are flexible enough to realistically capture the most important characteristics of the IPD. We present a model class that incorporates general normally distributed random effects into linear transformation models. We discuss extensions to model between-study heterogeneity in baseline risks and covariate effects and also relax the assumption of proportional hazards. Within the proposed framework, data with arbitrary random censoring patterns can be handled. The accompanying $textsf{R}$ package tramME utilizes the Laplace approximation and automatic differentiation to perform efficient maximum likelihood estimation and inference in mixed-effects transformation models. We compare several variants of our model to predict the survival of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using a large data set of prognostic studies. Finally, a simulation study is presented that verifies the correctness of the implementation and highlights its efficiency compared to an alternative approach.
© The Author 2021. Published by Oxford University Press.