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Table 1 A comparison of multilevel discrete-time and Bayesian spatial survival models used in this case study

From: Comparing multilevel and Bayesian spatial random effects survival models to assess geographical inequalities in colorectal cancer survival: a case study

  Multilevel Bayesian spatial
Software MLwiN 2.261 WinBUGS version 1.4
Cost Once-off purchase Free
Available interfaces Stata Stata, SAS, R
Initial data structure   
Retains multilevel structure (Patients nested in higher-level units) Yes No
Data expansion required Yes No
Geographical Structure None Preserves adjacent areas
Explanatory variables Unit Record Individual and higher-level Aggregated at individual-level and higher-level
Modelled Outcome Individual deaths Aggregated deaths
Random Effects Yes Yes
Prior distributions Gamma, Uniform Any including Gamma, Uniform, CAR
Default Priors Yes requires user specification of priors; greater flexibility
Estimation Method: MCMC Yes Yes
Number of MCMC chains Single only Single (multiple allowed also)
Level of random effects Individual and higher-level Higher-level
Within-area correlation Yes No
Between-area correlation No Yes
Adjacency matrix No Yes
Computational efficiency ( 5 year data)2 5-7 days 5-7 days
Ease of Implementation R equires prior data expansion Requires specification of model including prior distributions
Diagnostic Tests/ convergence plots Yes Yes
Questions answered:   
Do area- and individual-level factors impact survival for individual patients? Yes No
Extent to which between-individual variability is explained by covariates at both levels Yes No
Estimates unexplained area-level spatial variation after adjusting for parameters No Yes
Map spatial variation by small-areas No Yes
Cross level interactions Yes No
Allow unit record individual-level inferences Yes No
Parameter estimates Odds ratio (OR) Relative risk (RR)
  1. CAR: Conditional autoregressive prior; MCMC: Markov chain Monte Carlo.
  2. 1. Can also be run with MLwiN/WinBUGS interface.
  3. 2. On an Intel® Xeon® 2 Duo processor 64 bit CPU with 2.39 GHz processor speed and 24.0 GB RAM.