A spatially explicit analysis of chronic diseases in small areas: a case study of diabetes in Santiago, Chile

Crespo, Ricardo; Alvarez, Claudio; Hernandez, Ignacio; Garcia, Christian


Background There is a strong spatial correlation between demographics and chronic diseases in urban areas. Thus, most of the public policies aimed at improving prevention plans and optimizing the allocation of resources in health networks should be designed specifically for the socioeconomic reality of the population. One way to tackle this challenge is by exploring within a small geographical area the spatial patterns that link the sociodemographic attributes that characterize a community, its risk of suffering chronic diseases, and the accessibility of health treatment. Due to the inherent complexity of cities, soft clustering methods are recommended to find fuzzy spatial patterns. Our main motivation is to provide health planners with valuable spatial information to support decision-making. For the case study, we chose to investigate diabetes in Santiago, Chile. Methods To deal with spatiality, we combine two statistical techniques: spatial microsimulation and a self-organizing map (SOM). Spatial microsimulation allows spatial disaggregation of health indicators data to a small area level. In turn, SOM, unlike classical clustering methods, incorporates a learning component through neural networks, which makes it more appropriate to model complex adaptive systems, such as cities. Thus, while spatial microsimulation generates the data for the analysis, the SOM method finds the relevant socio-economic clusters. We selected age, sex, income, prevalence of diabetes, distance to public health services, and type of health insurance as input variables. We used public surveys as input data. Results We found four significant spatial clusters representing 75 percent of the whole population in Santiago. Two clusters correspond to people with low educational levels, low income, high accessibility to public health services, and a high prevalence of diabetes. However, one presents a significantly higher level of diabetes than the other. The second pair of clusters is made up of people with high educational levels, high income, and low prevalence of diabetes. What differentiates both clusters is accessibility to health centers. The average distance to the health centers of one group almost doubles that of the other. Conclusions In this study, we combined two statistical techniques: spatial microsimulation and selforganising maps to explore the relationship between diabetes and socio-demographics in Santiago, Chile. The results have allowed us to corroborate the importance of the spatial factor in the analysis of chronic diseases as a way of suggesting differentiated solutions to spatially explicit problems. SOM turned out to be a good choice to deal with fuzzy health and socioeconomic data. The method explored and uncovered valuable spatial patterns for health decision-making. In turn, spatial microsimulation.

Más información

Título según WOS: A spatially explicit analysis of chronic diseases in small areas: a case study of diabetes in Santiago, Chile
Volumen: 19
Número: 1
Editorial: BMC
Fecha de publicación: 2020


Notas: ISI