Applications of Bayesian approach in modelling risk of malaria-related hospital mortality


Malaria is a major public health problem in Malawi, however, quantifying its burden in a population is a challenge. Routine hospital data provide a proxy for measuring the incidence of severe malaria and for crudely estimating morbidity rates.

Using such data, this paper proposes a method to describe trends, patterns and factors associated with in-hospital mortality attributed to the disease.

Methods: We develop semiparametric regression models which allow joint analysis of nonlinear effects of calendar time and continuous covariates, spatially structured variation, unstructured heterogeneity, and other fixed covariates. Modelling and inference use the fully Bayesian approach via Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation techniques.

The methodology is applied to analyse data arising from paediatric wards in Zomba district, Malawi, between 2002 and 2003.Results and conclusionWe observe that the risk of dying in hospital is lower in the dry season, and for children who travel a distance of less than 5 kms to the hospital, but increases for those who are referred to the hospital. The results also indicate significant differences in both structured and unstructured spatial effects, and the health facility effects reveal considerable differences by type of facility or practice.

More importantly, our approach shows non-linearities in the effect of metrical covariates on the probability of dying in hospital. The study emphasizes that the methodological framework used provides a useful tool for analysing the data at hand and of similar structure.



Published on: 2008-02-19

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