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A framework for modelling differences in regional mortality over time
  1. L M Lix,
  2. O Ekuma,
  3. M Brownell,
  4. L L Roos
  1. Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Lisa M Lix
 Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Room 408-727 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Canada MB R3C 3P5;


Study objective: To present a conceptual framework for testing differences in mortality for small geographical areas over time using the generalised linear model with generalised estimating equations. This framework can be used to test whether the magnitude of regional inequalities in health status has changed over time.

Design: A Poisson regression model for correlated data is used to investigate the relation of population health status to demographic, geographical, and temporal explanatory variables. Differences between regions at one or more points in time are tested with linear contrasts.

Setting and participants: A case example shows the application of the framework. All cause mortality and cause specific mortality were compared for three rural regions of Manitoba, Canada between 1985 and 1999. The data were obtained from Vital Statistics records and the provincial health registry.

Main results: Tests of linear contrasts on the regression coefficients for time and region show an increase in the magnitude of the difference in the risk of all cause mortality and heart disease mortality between northern and southern regions of the province for the 1985–1989 and 1995–1999 time periods. No significant differences are identified for cancer, injury, or respiratory disease mortality.

Conclusions: The proposed framework enables testing of a variety of hypotheses about differences between regions and time periods and can be applied to other measures of population health status.

  • small area analysis
  • longitudinal data
  • generalised linear model
  • GEE, generalised estimating equation
  • GLM, generalised linear model
  • RHA, regional health authority
  • PMR, premature mortality rate

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  • * We have removed the regression coefficients for age from the contrast specification when this explanatory variable is held constant.

  • Funding: this research was supported by a grant to the first author from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR; no FRN-62336), a CIHR New Investigator award to the third author, and a grant to the fourth author from the Canadian Population Health Initiative.

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