A procedure to characterize geographic distributions of rare disorders in cohorts

Karla C Van Meter, Lasse Engbo Christiansen, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Rahman Azari, Tim E Carpenter

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    Background Individual point data can be analyzed against an entire cohort instead of only sampled controls to accurately picture the geographic distribution of populations at risk for low prevalence diseases. Analyzed as individual points, many smaller clusters with high relative risks (RR) and low empirical p values are indistinguishable from a random distribution. When points are aggregated into areal units, small clusters may result in a larger cluster with a low RR or be lost if divided into pieces included in units of larger populations that show no increased prevalence. Previous simulation studies showed lowered validity of spatial scan tests for true clusters with low RR. Using simulations, this study explored the effects of low cluster RR and areal unit size on local area clustering test (LACT) results, proposing a procedure to improve accuracy of cohort spatial analysis for rare events. Results Our simulations demonstrated the relationship of true RR to observed RR and p values with various, randomly located, cluster shapes, areal unit sizes and scanning window shapes in a diverse population distribution. Clusters with RR
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
    Pages (from-to)26
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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