Interpreting results of cluster surveys in emergency settings: is the LQAS test the best option?
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Interpreting results of cluster surveys in emergency settings: is the LQAS test the best option?

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  • Alternative Title:
    Emerg Themes Epidemiol
  • Description:
    Cluster surveys are commonly used in humanitarian emergencies to measure health and nutrition indicators. Deitchler et al. have proposed to use Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) hypothesis testing in cluster surveys to classify the prevalence of global acute malnutrition as exceeding or not exceeding the pre-established thresholds. Field practitioners and decision-makers must clearly understand the meaning and implications of using this test in interpreting survey results to make programmatic decisions. We demonstrate that the LQAS test--as proposed by Deitchler et al.--is prone to producing false-positive results and thus is likely to suggest interventions in situations where interventions may not be needed. As an alternative, to provide more useful information for decision-making, we suggest reporting the probability of an indicator's exceeding the threshold as a direct measure of "risk". Such probability can be easily determined in field settings by using a simple spreadsheet calculator. The "risk" of exceeding the threshold can then be considered in the context of other aggravating and protective factors to make informed programmatic decisions.
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