Bayesian space-time modeling of malaria incidence in Sucre state, Venezuela: SPATIAL SPECIAL ISSUE

Desirée Villalta, Lelys Guenni, Yasmin Rubio-Palis, Raúl Ramírez Arbeláez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Malaria is a parasitic infectious tropical disease that causes high mortality rates in the tropical belt. In Venezuela, Sucre state is considered the third state with most disease prevalence. This paper presents a hierarchical regression log-Poisson space-time model within a Bayesian approach to represent the incidence of malaria in Sucre state, Venezuela, during the period 1990-2002 in 15 municipalities of the state. Several additive models for the logarithm of the relative risk of the disease for each district were considered. These models differ in their structure by including different combinations of social-economic and climatic covariates in a multiple regression term. A random effect that captures the spatial heterogeneity in the study region, and a CAR (Conditionally Autoregressive) component that recognizes the effect of nearby municipalities in the transmission of the disease each year, are also included in the model. A simpler version without including the CAR component was also fitted to the data. Model estimation and predictive inference was carried out through the implementation of a computer code in the WinBUGS software, which makes use of Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods. For model selection the criterion of minimum posterior predictive loss (D) was used. The Moran I statistic was calculated to test the independence of the residuals of the resulting model. Finally, we verify the model fit by using the Bayesian p-value, and in most cases the selected model captures the spatial structure of the relative risks among the neighboring municipalities each year. For years with a poor model fit, the t-Student distribution is used as an alternative model for the spatial local random effect with better fit to the tail behavior of the data probability distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-171
Number of pages21
JournalAStA Advances in Statistical Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Areal models
  • Bayesian hierarchical models
  • Malaria
  • log-Poisson regression model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analysis
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Applied Mathematics


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