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Stat Med. 2007 Oct 30;26(24):4455-74.

Regression B-spline smoothing in Bayesian disease mapping: with an application to patient safety surveillance.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. ymacnab@cw.bc.ca


In the context of Bayesian disease mapping, recent literature presents generalized linear mixed models that engender spatial smoothing. The methods assume spatially varying random effects as a route to partially pooling data and 'borrowing strength' in small-area estimation. When spatiotemporal disease rates are available for sequential risk mapping of several time periods, the 'smoothing' issue may be explored by considering spatial smoothing, temporal smoothing and spatiotemporal interaction. In this paper, these considerations are motivated and explored through development of a Bayesian semiparametric disease mapping model framework which facilitates temporal smoothing of rates and relative risks via regression B-splines with mixed-effect representation of coefficients. Specifically, we develop spatial priors such as multivariate Gaussian Markov random fields and non-spatial priors such as unstructured multivariate Gaussian distributions and illustrate how time trends in small-area relative risks may be explored by splines which vary in either a spatially structured or unstructured manner. In particular, we show that with suitable prior specifications for the random effects ensemble, small-area relative risk trends may be fit by 'spatially varying' or randomly varying B-splines. A recently developed Bayesian hierarchical model selection criterion, the deviance information criterion, is used to assess the trade-off between goodness-of-fit and smoothness and to select the number of knots. The methodological development aims to provide reliable information about the patterns (both over space and time) of disease risks and to quantify uncertainty. The study offers a disease and health outcome surveillance methodology for flexible and efficient exploration and assessment of emerging risk trends and clustering. The methods are motivated and illustrated through a Bayesian analysis of adverse medical events (also known as iatrogenic injuries) among hospitalized elderly patients in British Columbia, Canada.

Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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