Applications and comparisons of four time series models in epidemiological surveillance data

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 5;9(2):e88075. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088075. eCollection 2014.


Public health surveillance systems provide valuable data for reliable predication of future epidemic events. This paper describes a study that used nine types of infectious disease data collected through a national public health surveillance system in mainland China to evaluate and compare the performances of four time series methods, namely, two decomposition methods (regression and exponential smoothing), autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) and support vector machine (SVM). The data obtained from 2005 to 2011 and in 2012 were used as modeling and forecasting samples, respectively. The performances were evaluated based on three metrics: mean absolute error (MAE), mean absolute percentage error (MAPE), and mean square error (MSE). The accuracy of the statistical models in forecasting future epidemic disease proved their effectiveness in epidemiological surveillance. Although the comparisons found that no single method is completely superior to the others, the present study indeed highlighted that the SVMs outperforms the ARIMA model and decomposition methods in most cases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Seasons
  • Support Vector Machine