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A review and discussion of prospective statistical surveillance in public health

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A review of methods suggested in the literature for sequential detection of changes in public health surveillance data is presented. Many researchers have noted the need for prospective methods. In recent years there has been an increased interest in both the statistical and the epidemiological literature concerning this type of problem. However, most of the vast literature in public health monitoring deals with retrospective methods, especially spatial methods. Evaluations with respect to the statistical properties of interest for prospective surveillance are rare. The special aspects of prospective statistical surveillance and different ways of evaluating such methods are described. Attention is given to methods that include only the time domain as well as methods for detection where observations have a spatial structure. In the case of surveillance of a change in a Poisson process the likelihood ratio method and the Shiryaev–Roberts method are derived.
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Keywords: Detection; Expected delay; Incidence rate; Monitoring; Public health surveillance; Sequential methods; Spatial cluster

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Göteborg University, Sweden

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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