A practical illustration of spatial smoothing methods for disconnected regions with INLA: spatial survey on overweight and obesity in Malaysia

Maria Safura Mohamad, Khairul Nizam Abdul Maulud, Christel Faes

Tutkimustuotos: ArtikkeliScientificvertaisarvioitu

1 Sitaatiot (Scopus)
12 Lataukset (Pure)


Background: National prevalence could mask subnational heterogeneity in disease occurrence, and disease mapping is an important tool to illustrate the spatial pattern of disease. However, there is limited information on techniques for the specification of conditional autoregressive models in disease mapping involving disconnected regions. This study explores available techniques for producing district-level prevalence estimates for disconnected regions, using as an example childhood overweight in Malaysia, which consists of the Peninsular and Borneo regions separated by the South China Sea. We used data from Malaysia National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2015. We adopted Bayesian hierarchical modelling using the integrated nested Laplace approximation (INLA) program in R-software to model the spatial distribution of overweight among 6301 children aged 5–17 years across 144 districts located in two disconnected regions. We illustrate different types of spatial models for prevalence mapping across disconnected regions, taking into account the survey design and adjusting for district-level demographic and socioeconomic covariates. Results: The spatial model with split random effects and a common intercept has the lowest Deviance and Watanabe Information Criteria. There was evidence of a spatial pattern in the prevalence of childhood overweight across districts. An increasing trend in smoothed prevalence of overweight was observed when moving from the east to the west of the Peninsular and Borneo regions. The proportion of Bumiputera ethnicity in the district had a significant negative association with childhood overweight: the higher the proportion of Bumiputera ethnicity in the district, the lower the prevalence of childhood overweight. Conclusion: This study illustrates different available techniques for mapping prevalence across districts in disconnected regions using survey data. These techniques can be utilized to produce reliable subnational estimates for any areas that comprise of disconnected regions. Through the example, we learned that the best-fit model was the one that considered the separate variations of the individual regions. We discovered that the occurrence of childhood overweight in Malaysia followed a spatial pattern with an east–west gradient trend, and we identified districts with high prevalence of overweight. This information could help policy makers in making informed decisions for targeted public health interventions in high-risk areas.

DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - kesäk. 2023
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä


  • Jufo-taso 1

!!ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Yleinen tietojenkäsittelytiede
  • Yleinen liiketoiminta, johto ja kirjanpito
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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