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Advances in spatiotemporal models for non-communicable disease surveillance

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  • M. Blangiardo
  • A. Boulieri
  • P. Diggle
  • F.B. Piel
  • G. Shaddick
  • P. Elliott
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/04/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Epidemiology
Issue numberSuppl. 1
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)i26-i37
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Surveillance systems are commonly used to provide early warning detection or to assess an impact of an intervention/policy. Traditionally, the methodological and conceptual frameworks for surveillance have been designed for infectious diseases, but the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide suggests a pressing need for surveillance strategies to detect unusual patterns in the data and to help unveil important risk factors in this setting. Surveillance methods need to be able to detect meaningful departures from expectation and exploit dependencies within such data to produce unbiased estimates of risk as well as future forecasts. This has led to the increasing development of a range of space-time methods specifically designed for NCD surveillance. We present an overview of recent advances in spatiotemporal disease surveillance for NCDs, using hierarchically specified models. This provides a coherent framework for modelling complex data structures, dealing with data sparsity, exploiting dependencies between data sources and propagating the inherent uncertainties present in both the data and the modelling process. We then focus on three commonly used models within the Bayesian Hierarchical Model (BHM) framework and, through a simulation study, we compare their performance. We also discuss some challenges faced by researchers when dealing with NCD surveillance, including how to account for false detection and the modifiable areal unit problem. Finally, we consider how to use and interpret the complex models, how model selection may vary depending on the intended user group and how best to communicate results to stakeholders and the general public.