HPV vaccine coverage in Texas counties: An application of multilevel, small area estimation

Jan Marie Eberth, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Health departments, research institutions, policy-makers, and healthcare providers are often interested in knowing the health status of their clients/constituents. Without the resources, financially or administratively, to go out into the community and conduct health assessments directly, these entities frequently rely on data from population-based surveys to supply the information they need. Unfortunately, these surveys are ill-equipped for the job due to sample size and privacy concerns. Small area estimation (SAE) techniques have excellent potential in such circumstances, but have been underutilized in public health due to lack of awareness and confidence in applying its methods. The goal of this research is to make model-based SAE accessible to a broad readership using clear, example-based learning. Specifically, we applied the principles of multilevel, unit-level SAE to describe the geographic distribution of HPV vaccine coverage among females aged 11-26 in Texas. Multilevel (3 level: individual, county, public health region) random-intercept logit models of HPV vaccination (receipt of ≥ 1 dose Gardasil® ) were fit to data from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (outcome and level 1 covariates) and a number of secondary sources (group-level covariates). Sampling weights were scaled (level 1) or constructed (levels 2 & 3), and incorporated at every level. Using the regression coefficients (and standard errors) from the final models, I simulated 10,000 datasets for each regression coefficient from the normal distribution and applied them to the logit model to estimate HPV vaccine coverage in each county and respective demographic subgroup. For simplicity, I only provide coverage estimates (and 95% confidence intervals) for counties. County-level coverage among females aged 11-17 varied from 6.8-29.0%. For females aged 18-26, coverage varied from 1.9%-23.8%. Aggregated to the state level, these values translate to indirect state estimates of 15.5% and 11.4%, respectively; both of which fall within the confidence intervals for the direct estimates of HPV vaccine coverage in Texas (Females 11-17: 17.7%, 95% CI: 13.6, 21.9; Females 18-26: 12.0%, 95% CI: 6.2, 17.7). Small area estimation has great potential for informing policy, program development and evaluation, and the provision of health services. Harnessing the flexibility of multilevel, unit-level SAE to estimate HPV vaccine coverage among females aged 11-26 in Texas counties, I have provided (1) practical guidance on how to conceptualize and conduct modelbased SAE, (2) a robust framework that can be applied to other health outcomes or geographic levels of aggregation, and (3) HPV vaccine coverage data that may inform the development of health education programs, the provision of health services, the planning of additional research studies, and the creation of local health policies.

Subject Area

Biostatistics|Behavioral Sciences|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Eberth, Jan Marie, "HPV vaccine coverage in Texas counties: An application of multilevel, small area estimation" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3432954.