Multi-country health surveys: Are the analyses misleading? Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: The aim of this paper was to review the types of approaches currently utilized in the analysis of multi-country survey data, specifically focusing on design and modeling issues with a focus on analyses of significant multi-country surveys published in 2010. METHODS: A systematic search strategy was used to identify the 10 multi-country surveys and the articles published from them in 2010. The surveys were selected to reflect diverse topics and foci; and provide an insight into analytic approaches across research themes. The search identified 159 articles appropriate for full text review and data extraction. RESULTS: The analyses adopted in the multi-country surveys can be broadly classified as: univariate/bivariate analyses, and multivariate/multivariable analyses. Multivariate/multivariable analyses may be further divided into design- and model-based analyses. Of the 159 articles reviewed, 129 articles used model-based analysis, 30 articles used design-based analyses. Similar patterns could be seen in all the individual surveys. CONCLUSION: While there is general agreement among survey statisticians that complex surveys are most appropriately analyzed using design-based analyses, most researchers continued to use the more common model-based approaches. Recent developments in design-based multi-level analysis may be one approach to include all the survey design characteristics. This is a relatively new area, however, and there remains statistical, as well as applied analytic research required. An important limitation of this study relates to the selection of the surveys used and the choice of year for the analysis, i.e., year 2010 only. There is, however, no strong reason to believe that analytic strategies have changed radically in the past few years, and 2010 provides a credible snapshot of current practice.

publication date

  • 2014