Error propagation in spatial modeling of public health data: a simulation approach using pediatric blood lead level data for Syracuse, New York

Original Paper

Abstract

Lead poisoning produces serious health problems, which are worse when a victim is younger. The US government and society have tried to prevent lead poisoning, especially since the 1970s; however, lead exposure remains prevalent. Lead poisoning analyses frequently use georeferenced blood lead level data. Like other types of data, these spatial data may contain uncertainties, such as location and attribute measurement errors, which can propagate to analysis results. For this paper, simulation experiments are employed to investigate how selected uncertainties impact regression analyses of blood lead level data in Syracuse, New York. In these simulations, location error and attribute measurement error, as well as a combination of these two errors, are embedded into the original data, and then these data are aggregated into census block group and census tract polygons. These aggregated data are analyzed with regression techniques, and comparisons are reported between the regression coefficients and their standard errors for the error added simulation results and the original results. To account for spatial autocorrelation, the eigenvector spatial filtering method and spatial autoregressive specifications are utilized with linear and generalized linear models. Our findings confirm that location error has more of an impact on the differences than does attribute measurement error, and show that the combined error leads to the greatest deviations. Location error simulation results show that smaller administrative units experience more of a location error impact, and, interestingly, coefficients and standard errors deviate more from their true values for a variable with a low level of spatial autocorrelation. These results imply that uncertainty, especially location error, has a considerable impact on the reliability of spatial analysis results for public health data, and that the level of spatial autocorrelation in a variable also has an impact on modeling results.

Keywords

Lead poisoning Uncertainty Location error Measurement error Spatial data analysis 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monghyeon Lee
    • 1
  • Yongwan Chun
    • 1
  • Daniel A. Griffith
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Economic, Political and Policy SciencesUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

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