A Comparison of the Posterior Choropleth Maps for Disease Mapping
Volume 3, Issue 1 (2005), pp. 47–68
Pub. online: 4 August 2022 Type: Research Article Open Access
4 August 2022
4 August 2022
Abstract: In Bayesian analysis of mortality rates it is standard practice to present the posterior mean rates in a choropleth map, a stepped statistical surface identified by colored or shaded areas. A natural objection against the posterior mean map is that it may not be the “best” representation of the mortality rates. One should really present the map that has the highest posterior density over the ensemble of areas in the map (i.e., the coordinates that maximize the joint posterior density of the mortality rates). Thus, the posterior modal map maximizes the joint posterior density of the mortality rates. We apply a Poisson regression model, a Bayesian hierarchical model, that has been used to study mortality data and other rare events when there are occurrences from many areas. The model provides convenient Rao-Blackwellized estimators of the mortality rates. Our method enables us to construct the posterior modal map of mortality data from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) in the continental United States. We show how to fit the Poisson regression model using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods (i.e., the Metropolis-Hastings sampler), and obtain both the posterior modal map and posterior mean map are obtained by an output analysis from the Metropolis-Hastings sampler. The COPD data are used to provide an empirical comparison of these two maps. As expected, we have found important differences between the two maps, and recommended that the posterior modal map should be used.