District-level estimation of vaccination coverage: Discrete vs continuous spatial models

Statistics in Medicine

By C. Edson Utazi, Kristine Nilsen, Oliver Pannell, Winfred Dotse-Gborgbortsi, Andrew J. Tatem in publication

February 1, 2021


February 1, 2021


12:00 AM


Health and development indicators (HDIs) such as vaccination coverage are regularly measured in many low- and middle-income countries using household surveys, often due to the unreliability or incompleteness of routine data collection systems. Recently, the development of model-based approaches for producing subnational estimates of HDIs using survey data, particularly cluster-level data, has been an active area of research. This is mostly driven by the increasing demand for estimates at certain administrative levels, for example, districts, at which many development goals are set and evaluated. In this study, we explore spatial modeling approaches for producing district-level estimates of vaccination coverage. Specifically, we compare discrete spatial smoothing models which directly model district-level data with continuous Gaussian process (GP) models that utilize geolocated cluster-level data. We adopt a fully Bayesian framework, implemented using the INLA and SPDE approaches. We compare the predictive performance of the models by analyzing vaccination coverage using data from two Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), namely the 2014 Kenya DHS and the 2015-16 Malawi DHS. We find that the continuous GP models performed well, offering a credible alternative to traditional discrete spatial smoothing models. Our analysis also revealed that accounting for between-cluster variation in the continuous GP models did not have any real effect on the district-level estimates. Our results provide guidance to practitioners on the reliability of these model-based approaches for producing estimates of vaccination coverage and other HDIs.

Posted on:
February 1, 2021
2 minute read, 232 words
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