Flexible Scan Statistics for Detecting Spatial Disease Clusters: The rflexscan R Package

Takahiro Otani, Kunihiko Takahashi

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The spatial scan statistic is commonly used to detect spatial disease clusters in epidemiological studies. Among the various types of scan statistics, the flexible scan statistic proposed by Tango and Takahashi (2005) is one of the most promising methods to detect arbitrarily-shaped clusters. In this paper, we introduce a new R package, rflexscan (Otani and Takahashi 2021), that provides efficient and easy-to-use methods for analyses of spatial count data using the flexible spatial scan statistic. The package is designed for any of the following interrelated purposes: to evaluate whether reported spatial disease clusters are statistically significant, to test whether a disease is randomly distributed over space, and to perform geographical surveillance of disease to detect areas of significantly high rates. The functionality of the package is demonstrated through an application to a public-domain small-area cancer incidence dataset in New York State, USA, between 2005 and 2009.

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