Missing in space: An evaluation of imputation methods for missing data in spatial analysis of risk factors for type II diabetes

Baker, Jannah, White, Nicole, & Mengersen, Kerrie (2014) Missing in space: An evaluation of imputation methods for missing data in spatial analysis of risk factors for type II diabetes. International Journal of Health Geographics, 13(47).

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Spatial analysis is increasingly important for identifying modifiable geographic risk factors for disease. However, spatial health data from surveys are often incomplete, ranging from missing data for only a few variables, to missing data for many variables. For spatial analyses of health outcomes, selection of an appropriate imputation method is critical in order to produce the most accurate inferences.


We present a cross-validation approach to select between three imputation methods for health survey data with correlated lifestyle covariates, using as a case study, type II diabetes mellitus (DM II) risk across 71 Queensland Local Government Areas (LGAs). We compare the accuracy of mean imputation to imputation using multivariate normal and conditional autoregressive prior distributions.


Choice of imputation method depends upon the application and is not necessarily the most complex method. Mean imputation was selected as the most accurate method in this application.


Selecting an appropriate imputation method for health survey data, after accounting for spatial correlation and correlation between covariates, allows more complete analysis of geographic risk factors for disease with more confidence in the results to inform public policy decision-making.

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ID Code: 88818
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1186/1476-072X-13-47
ISSN: 1476-072X
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Mathematical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Baker et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Deposited On: 23 Oct 2015 04:38
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 04:38

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