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Funnel plots and choropleth maps in cancer risk communication: a comparison of tools for disseminating population-based incidence data to stakeholders

  • Autori: Mazzucco, W.; Cusimano, R.; Zarcone, M.; Mazzola, S.; Vitale, F.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2017
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)


Background: Population-based cancer registries provide epidemiological cancer information, but the indicators are often too complex to be interpreted by local authorities and communities, due to numeracy and literacy limitations. The aim of this paper is to compare the commonly used visual formats to funnel plots to enable local public health authorities and communities to access valid and understandable cancer incidence data obtained at the municipal level. Methods: A funnel plot representation of standardised incidence ratio (SIR) was generated for the 82 municipalities of the Palermo Province with the 2003 2011 data from the Palermo Province Cancer Registry (Sicily, Italy). The properties of the funnel plot and choropleth map methodologies were compared within the context of disseminating epidemiological data to stakeholders. Results: The SIRs of all the municipalities remained within the control limits, except for Palermo city area (SIR=1.12), which was sited outside the upper control limit line of 99.8%. The Palermo Province SIRs funnel plot representation was congruent with the choropleth map generated from the same data, but the former resulted more informative as shown by the comparisons of the weaknesses and strengths of the 2 visual formats. Conclusions: Funnel plot should be used as a complementary valuable tool to communicate epidemiological data of cancer registries to communities and local authorities, visually conveying an efficient and simple way to interpret cancer incidence data.