A scoping review of spatial analysis approaches using health survey data in Sub-Saharan Africa

Manda, Samuel ; Haushona, Ndamonaonghenda ; Bergquist, Robert (2020-04-28)

CITATION: Manda, S., Haushona, N. & Bergquist, R. 2020. A Scoping Review of Spatial Analysis Approaches Using Health Survey Data in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(9). doi:10.3390/ijerph17093070

The original publication is available at https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph


Spatial analysis has become an increasingly used analytic approach to describe and analyze spatial characteristics of disease burden, but the depth and coverage of its usage for health surveys data in Sub-Saharan Africa are not well known. The objective of this scoping review was to conduct an evaluation of studies using spatial statistics approaches for national health survey data in the SSA region. An organized literature search for studies related to spatial statistics and national health surveys was conducted through PMC, PubMed/Medline, Scopus, NLM Catalog, and Science Direct electronic databases. Of the 4,193 unique articles identified, 153 were included in the final review. Spatial smoothing and prediction methods were predominant (n = 108), followed by spatial description aggregation (n = 25), and spatial autocorrelation and clustering (n = 19). Bayesian statistics methods and lattice data modelling were predominant (n = 108). Most studies focused on malaria and fever (n = 47) followed by health services coverage (n = 38). Only fifteen studies employed nonstandard spatial analyses (e.g., spatial model assessment, joint spatial modelling, accounting for survey design). We recommend that for future spatial analysis using health survey data in the SSA region, there must be an improve recognition and awareness of the potential dangers of a naïve application of spatial statistical methods. We also recommend a wide range of applications using big health data and the future of data science for health systems to monitor and evaluate impacts that are not well understood at local levels.

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