Estimating uncertainty in geospatial modelling at multiple spatial resolutions: the pattern of delivery via Caesarean section in Tanzania

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Visualising maternal and newborn health (MNH) outcomes at fine spatial resolutions is crucial to ensuring the most vulnerable women and children are not left behind in improving health. Disaggregated data on life-saving MNH interventions remain difficult to obtain, however, necessitating the use of Bayesian geostatistical models to map outcomes at small geographical areas.

While these methods have improved model parameter estimates and precision among spatially correlated health outcomes and allowed for the quantification of uncertainty, few studies have examined the trade-off between higher spatial resolution modelling and how associated uncertainty propagates.

Here, researchers explored the trade-off between model outcomes and associated uncertainty at increasing spatial resolutions by quantifying the posterior distribution of delivery via Caesarean section (C-section) in Tanzania. Overall, in modelling delivery via C-section at multiple spatial resolutions, researchers demonstrated poverty to be negatively correlated across spatial resolutions, suggesting important disparities in obtaining life-saving obstetric surgery persist across sociodemographic factors.

Lastly, researchers found that while uncertainty increased with higher spatial resolution input, model precision was best approximated at the highest spatial resolution, suggesting an important policy trade-off between identifying concealed spatial heterogeneities in health indicators.

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