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Child anthropometry data quality from Demographic and Health Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, and National Nutrition Surveys in the West Central Africa region: are we comparing apples and oranges?
Authors: Daniel J. Corsi, Jessica M. Perkins, and S. V. Subramanian
Source: Global Health Action, 10(1):1328185. doi: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1328185.
Topic(s): Data quality
Country: Africa
   Multiple African Countries
Published: JUN 2017
Abstract: Background: There has been limited work comparing survey characteristics and assessing the quality of child anthropometric data from population-based surveys.Objective: To investigate survey characteristics and indicators of quality of anthropometric data in children aged 0?59 months from 23 countries in the West Central Africa region. Methods: Using established methodologies and criteria to examine child age, sex, height, and weight, we conducted a comprehensive assessment and scoring of the quality of anthropometric data collected in 100 national surveys. Results: The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) collected data from a greater number of younger children than older children while the opposite was found for the National Nutrition Surveys (NNS). Missing or implausible height/weight data proportions were 12% and 8% in MICS and DHS compared to 3% in NNS. Average data quality scores were 14 in NNS, 33 in DHS, and 41 in MICS. Conclusions: Although our metric of data quality suggests that data from the NNS appear more consistent and robust, it is equally important to consider its disadvantages related to access and lack of broader socioeconomic information. In comparison, the DHS and MICS are publicly-accessible for research and provide socioeconomic context essential for assessing and addressing the burden of undernutrition within and between countries. The strengths and weaknesses of data from these three sources should be carefully considered when seeking to determine the burden of child undernutrition and its variation within countries.