CUDIA : a probabilistic cross-level imputation framework using individual auxiliary information
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In healthcare-related studies, individual patient or hospital data are not often publicly available due to privacy restrictions, legal issues or reporting norms. However, such measures may be provided at a higher or more aggregated level, such as state-level, county-level summaries or averages over health zones such as Hospital Referral Regions (HRR) or Hospital Service Areas (HSA). Such levels constitute partitions over the underlying individual level data, which may not match the groupings that would have been obtained if one clustered the data based on individual-level attributes. Moreover, treating aggregated values as representatives for the individuals can result in the ecological fallacy. How can one run data mining procedures on such data where different variables are available at different levels of aggregation or granularity? In this thesis, we seek a better utilization of variably aggregated datasets, which are possibly assembled from different sources. We propose a novel "cross-level" imputation technique that models the generative process of such datasets using a Bayesian directed graphical model. The imputation is based on the underlying data distribution and is shown to be unbiased. This imputation can be further utilized in a subsequent predictive modeling, yielding improved accuracies. The experimental results using a simulated dataset and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) dataset are provided to illustrate the generality and capabilities of the proposed framework.