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Mapping the uncertainty of non-contagious disease clusters boundaries in Brazil


The intrinsic variability that exists in the cases counting data for aggregated-area maps amounts to a corresponding uncertainty in the delineation of the most likely cluster found by methods based on the spatial scan statistics [3]. If this cluster turns out to be statistically significant it allows the characterization of a possible localized anomaly, dividing the areas in the map in two classes: those inside and outside the cluster. But, what about the areas that are outside the cluster but adjacent to it, sometimes sharing a physical border with an area inside the cluster? Should we simply discard them in a disease prevention program? Do all the areas inside the detected cluster have the same priority concerning public health actions? The intensity function [2], a recently introduced visualization method, answers those questions assigning a plausibility to each area of the study map to belong to the most likely cluster detected by the scan statistics. We use the intensity function to study cases of diabetes in Minas Gerais state, Brazil.


Cluster finder tools like SaTScan[1] usually do not assess the uncertainty in the location of spatial disease clusters. Using the nonparametric intensity function[2], a recently introduced visualization method of spatial clusters, we study the occurrence of several non-contageous diseases in Minas Gerais state, in Southeast Brazil.

Submitted by elamb on