Frailty modeling for spatially correlated survival data, with application to infant mortality in Minnesota.

Sudipto Banerjee, Melanie M. Wall, Bradley P. Carlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


The use of survival models involving a random effect or 'frailty' term is becoming more common. Usually the random effects are assumed to represent different clusters, and clusters are assumed to be independent. In this paper, we consider random effects corresponding to clusters that are spatially arranged, such as clinical sites or geographical regions. That is, we might suspect that random effects corresponding to strata in closer proximity to each other might also be similar in magnitude. Such spatial arrangement of the strata can be modeled in several ways, but we group these ways into two general settings: geostatistical approaches, where we use the exact geographic locations (e.g. latitude and longitude) of the strata, and lattice approaches, where we use only the positions of the strata relative to each other (e.g. which counties neighbor which others). We compare our approaches in the context of a dataset on infant mortality in Minnesota counties between 1992 and 1996. Our main substantive goal here is to explain the pattern of infant mortality using important covariates (sex, race, birth weight, age of mother, etc.) while accounting for possible (spatially correlated) differences in hazard among the counties. We use the GIS ArcView to map resulting fitted hazard rates, to help search for possible lingering spatial correlation. The DIC criterion (Spiegelhalter et al., Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B 2002, to appear) is used to choose among various competing models. We investigate the quality of fit of our chosen model, and compare its results when used to investigate neonatal versus post-neonatal mortality. We also compare use of our time-to-event outcome survival model with the simpler dichotomous outcome logistic model. Finally, we summarize our findings and suggest directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-142
Number of pages20
JournalBiostatistics (Oxford, England)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


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