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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - PloS one
Title Quantifying spatial disparities in neonatal mortality using a structured additive regression model
Volume 5
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Page numbers e1118
URL http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0011180
Neonatal mortality contributes a large proportion towards early childhood mortality in developing countries, with considerable geographical variation at small areas within countries.

A geo-additive logistic regression model is proposed for quantifying small-scale geographical variation in neonatal mortality, and to estimate risk factors of neonatal mortality. Random effects are introduced to capture spatial correlation and heterogeneity. The spatial correlation can be modelled using the Markov random fields (MRF) when data is aggregated, while the two dimensional P-splines apply when exact locations are available, whereas the unstructured spatial effects are assigned an independent Gaussian prior. Socio-economic and bio-demographic factors which may affect the risk of neonatal mortality are simultaneously estimated as fixed effects and as nonlinear effects for continuous covariates. The smooth effects of continuous covariates are modelled by second-order random walk priors. Modelling and inference use the empirical Bayesian approach via penalized likelihood technique. The methodology is applied to analyse the likelihood of neonatal deaths, using data from the 2000 Malawi demographic and health survey. The spatial effects are quantified through MRF and two dimensional P-splines priors.

Findings indicate that both fixed and spatial effects are associated with neonatal mortality.

Our study, therefore, suggests that the challenge to reduce neonatal mortality goes beyond addressing individual factors, but also require to understanding unmeasured covariates for potential effective interventions.

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