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Psaki S.R.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Psaki S.R.,Johns Hopkins University | Seidman J.C.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Seidman J.C.,Johns Hopkins University | And 14 more authors.
Population Health Metrics | Year: 2014

Background: There is no standardized approach to comparing socioeconomic status (SES) across multiple sites in epidemiological studies. This is particularly problematic when cross-country comparisons are of interest. We sought to develop a simple measure of SES that would perform well across diverse, resource-limited settings.Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with 800 children aged 24 to 60 months across eight resource-limited settings. Parents were asked to respond to a household SES questionnaire, and the height of each child was measured. A statistical analysis was done in two phases. First, the best approach for selecting and weighting household assets as a proxy for wealth was identified. We compared four approaches to measuring wealth: maternal education, principal components analysis, Multidimensional Poverty Index, and a novel variable selection approach based on the use of random forests. Second, the selected wealth measure was combined with other relevant variables to form a more complete measure of household SES. We used child height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) as the outcome of interest.Results: Mean age of study children was 41 months, 52% were boys, and 42% were stunted. Using cross-validation, we found that random forests yielded the lowest prediction error when selecting assets as a measure of household wealth. The final SES index included access to improved water and sanitation, eight selected assets, maternal education, and household income (the WAMI index). A 25% difference in the WAMI index was positively associated with a difference of 0.38 standard deviations in HAZ (95% CI 0.22 to 0.55).Conclusions: Statistical learning methods such as random forests provide an alternative to principal components analysis in the development of SES scores. Results from this multicountry study demonstrate the validity of a simplified SES index. With further validation, this simplified index may provide a standard approach for SES adjustment across resource-limited settings. © 2014 Psaki et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Psaki S.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Psaki S.,Johns Hopkins University | Bhutta Z.A.,Aga Khan University | Ahmed T.,International Centers for Diarrheal Disease Research | And 19 more authors.
Population Health Metrics | Year: 2012

Background: Stunting results from decreased food intake, poor diet quality, and a high burden of early childhood infections, and contributes to significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although food insecurity is an important determinant of child nutrition, including stunting, development of universal measures has been challenging due to cumbersome nutritional questionnaires and concerns about lack of comparability across populations. We investigate the relationship between household food access, one component of food security, and indicators of nutritional status in early childhood across eight country sites.Methods: We administered a socioeconomic survey to 800 households in research sites in eight countries, including a recently validated nine-item food access insecurity questionnaire, and obtained anthropometric measurements from children aged 24 to 60 months. We used multivariable regression models to assess the relationship between household food access insecurity and anthropometry in children, and we assessed the invariance of that relationship across country sites.Results: Average age of study children was 41 months. Mean food access insecurity score (range: 0-27) was 5.8, and varied from 2.4 in Nepal to 8.3 in Pakistan. Across sites, the prevalence of stunting (42%) was much higher than the prevalence of wasting (6%). In pooled regression analyses, a 10-point increase in food access insecurity score was associated with a 0.20 SD decrease in height-for-age Z score (95% CI 0.05 to 0.34 SD; p = 0.008). A likelihood ratio test for heterogeneity revealed that this relationship was consistent across countries (p = 0.17).Conclusions: Our study provides evidence of the validity of using a simple household food access insecurity score to investigate the etiology of childhood growth faltering across diverse geographic settings. Such a measure could be used to direct interventions by identifying children at risk of illness and death related to malnutrition. © 2012 Psaki et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

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