Geo-visual integration of health outcomes and risk factors using excess risk and conditioned choropleth maps: a case study of malaria incidence and sociodemographic determinants in Ghana

Sylvester Dodzi Nyadanu, Gavin Pereira, Derek Ngbandor Nawumbeni, Timothy Adampah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Recently, exploratory spatial data analysis is for problem solving, hypothesis generation and knowledge construction. Unless geographically weighted regression, sophisticated spatial regression models best control spatial heterogeneity in outcomes and the associated risk factors but cannot visually display and identify areas of the significant associations. The under-utilised excess risk maps (ERMs) and conditioned choropleth maps (CCMs) are useful to address this issue and simplify epidemiological information to public health stakeholders without much statistical backgrounds. Using malaria and sociodemographic determinants in Ghana as case study, this paper applied ERM and CCM techniques for identification of areas at elevated risk of disease-risk factor co-location. METHOD: We computed and smoothed mean district-specific malaria incidences for the period 2010 to 2014 as a function of sociodemographic determinants. The spatial distribution of malaria was investigated through global and local spatial autocorrelations, and the association with sociodemographic risk factors evaluated with bivariate correlations. ERMs and CCMs were produced for the statistically significant risk factors. RESULTS: The incidence of malaria increased over time with cluster locations detected, predominantly at the northern parts but later few spread to the middle parts of the country. Our results suggested that with respect to sociodemographic determinants, district variations in malaria rates might be explained by inequalities in seven sociodemographics, including an unexpected significant negative association with non-religious affiliation. The sociodemographics had positive spatial autocorrelations, exhibited statistically significant interactions and the strongest was observed in urbanisation-basic education correlation (p< 0.01, r = +0.969). The ERMs and CCMs specifically identified locations with lower or higher than expected rates with respect to particular risk factor(s) where improving risk factor(s) such as employment-to-population ratio in rural areas, basic education could have cascade effects to reduce the expected malaria incidence in endemic areas. CONCLUSION: Ghana remains malaria hyperendemic region with district-level spatial heterogeneity. Significant association between malaria and sociodemographics was detected and the ERMs and CCMs geo-visually pinpointed locations of these significant associations. To complement sophisticated spatial regression models, the easily interpretable ERMs and CCMs could be used to specify where disease-risk factor associations are significant, simplifying complex spatial epidemiological information for efficient public health administration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number514
Number of pages1
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


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