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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X


BALTAR, Valéria Troncoso; SOUSA, Clóvis Arlindo de  and  WESTPHAL, Marcia Faria. Mahalanobis' distance and propensity score to construct a controlled matched group in a Brazilian study of health promotion and social determinants. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2014, vol.17, n.3, pp.668-679. ISSN 1415-790X.

In observational epidemiology it is usual to select a control group to study the effects of certain exposures on human health. Intervention studies are well known among epidemiologists but it is not very frequent in other areas of research. In this paper we propose the same idea of intervention studies and the use of three methods for a health promotion research control group selection: Propensity score, Mahalanobis' distance and Mahalanobis within Propensity Calipers. In the original project, "Health and Local Development: a progress review towards the millennium goals with relation to health in the Brazilian cities which develop social agendas", cities with social agendas from Brazil were matched separately by state. In the state of Paraná there are 397 cities. Of these, 34 presented social agendas implemented and active since, at least, 2004. Five variables measured in 2000 were considered for the matching: population size, human development index of income, human development index of education, percentage of literacy and vaccine coverage. As a result, among these three methods, the Mahalanobis by itself was considered the less efficient. In conclusion, the propensity, which is a very simple linear score, presented very good matched sample. However, the Mahalanobis within Calipers was the method that provided the best result.

Keywords : Matched-pair analysis; Control groups; Mahalanobis' distance; Propensity score; Caliper matching; Epidemiology.

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