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A model of toxoplasmosis incidence in the UK: evidence synthesis and consistency of evidence

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We present a Bayesian evidence synthesis model combining data on seroprevalence, seroconversion and tests of recent infection, to produce estimates of current incidence of toxoplasmosis in the UK. The motivation for the study was the need for an estimate of current average incidence in the UK, with a realistic assessment of its uncertainty, to inform a decision model for a national screening programme to prevent congenital toxoplasmosis. The model has a hierarchical structure over geographic region, a random-walk model for temporal effects and a fixed age effect, with one or more types of data informing the regional estimates of incidence. Inference is obtained by using Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations. A key issue in the synthesis of evidence from multiple sources is model selection and the consistency of different types of evidence. Alternative models of incidence are compared by using the deviance information criterion, and we find that temporal effects are region specific. We assess the consistency of the various forms of evidence by using cross-validation where practical, and posterior and mixed prediction otherwise, and we discuss how these measures can be used to assess different aspects of consistency in a complex evidence structure. We discuss the contribution of the various forms of evidence to estimated current average incidence.

Keywords: Bayesian modelling; Confidence profile method; Congenital infection; Epidemiology; Hierarchical random effects; Infectious diseases; Posterior predictive checks; Random-walk process

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Bristol, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2005


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