A novel, efficient method for estimating the prevalence of acute malnutrition in resource-constrained and crisis-affected settings: A simulation study.


Frison, S; Kerac, M; Checchi, F; Nicholas, J; (2017) A novel, efficient method for estimating the prevalence of acute malnutrition in resource-constrained and crisis-affected settings: A simulation study. PLoS One, 12 (11). e0186328. ISSN 1932-6203 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186328

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Abstract

The assessment of the prevalence of acute malnutrition in children under five is widely used for the detection of emergencies, planning interventions, advocacy, and monitoring and evaluation. This study examined PROBIT Methods which convert parameters (mean and standard deviation (SD)) of a normally distributed variable to a cumulative probability below any cut-off to estimate acute malnutrition in children under five using Middle-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC). We assessed the performance of: PROBIT Method I, with mean MUAC from the survey sample and MUAC SD from a database of previous surveys; and PROBIT Method II, with mean and SD of MUAC observed in the survey sample. Specifically, we generated sub-samples from 852 survey datasets, simulating 100 surveys for eight sample sizes. Overall the methods were tested on 681 600 simulated surveys. PROBIT methods relying on sample sizes as small as 50 had better performance than the classic method for estimating and classifying the prevalence of acute malnutrition. They had better precision in the estimation of acute malnutrition for all sample sizes and better coverage for smaller sample sizes, while having relatively little bias. They classified situations accurately for a threshold of 5% acute malnutrition. Both PROBIT methods had similar outcomes. PROBIT Methods have a clear advantage in the assessment of acute malnutrition prevalence based on MUAC, compared to the classic method. Their use would require much lower sample sizes, thus enable great time and resource savings and permit timely and/or locally relevant prevalence estimates of acute malnutrition for a swift and well-targeted response.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Disease Control
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Medical Statistics
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Population Health (2012- )
Research Centre: Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre
PubMed ID: 29091927
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/4640772

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