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Path analysis and multi-criteria decision making: an approach for multivariate model selection and analysis in health

Path analysis and multi-criteria decision making: an approach for multivariate model selection and analysis in health

Annals of Epidemiology 11(6): 377-384

ISSN/ISBN: 1047-2797

PMID: 11454496

DOI: 10.1016/s1047-2797(01)00232-0

PURPOSE: This paper introduces an approach that includes non-quantitative factors for the selection and assessment of multivariate complex models in health. METHODS: A goodness-of-fit based methodology combined with fuzzy multi-criteria decision-making approach is proposed for model selection. Models were obtained using the Path Analysis (PA) methodology in order to explain the interrelationship between health determinants and the post-neonatal component of infant mortality in 59 municipalities of Brazil in the year 1991. Socioeconomic and demographic factors were used as exogenous variables, and environmental, health service and agglomeration as endogenous variables. Five PA models were developed and accepted by statistical criteria of goodness-of fit. These models were then submitted to a group of experts, seeking to characterize their preferences, according to predefined criteria that tried to evaluate model relevance and plausibility. Fuzzy set techniques were used to rank the alternative models according to the number of times a model was superior to ("dominated") the others. RESULTS: The best-ranked model explained above 90% of the endogenous variables variation, and showed the favorable influences of income and education levels on post-neonatal mortality. It also showed the unfavorable effect on mortality of fast population growth, through precarious dwelling conditions and decreased access to sanitation. CONCLUSIONS: It was possible to aggregate expert opinions in model evaluation. The proposed procedure for model selection allowed the inclusion of subjective information in a clear and systematic manner.

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Accession: 011120812

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