Term: Cluster Analysis

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Glossary Definition

Last Updated: 2011-02-22


"A set of statistical methods used to group variables or observations in strongly interrelated subgroups" (Last, 2001).

The process starts with each person/object as an individual cluster, then groups items that are most similar and gradually relaxes the grouping criteria until one overall group is formed. Unlike traditional statistics, cluster analysis does not calculate the ideal number of statistically different groups, but relies on people, using both mathematical and context specific knowledge, to decide when the clustering technique should stop. Once the number of groups is decided, cluster analysis provides a statistical (pseudo R 2 ) value to describe the mathematical "fit" of the overall model. Like traditional R 2 values provided by ordinary least squared regression, pseudo R 2 values are largest when people within each group (cluster) are very similar, and when the differences between groups are large.

Related terms 


  • Last JM. A Dictionary of Epidemiology. 4th Edition. In: Spasoff, RA, et. al. (eds). New York, New York: Oxford University Press; 2001. 0-0.(View)

Term used in 

  • Chateau D, Doupe M, Walld R, Soodeen R, Ouelette C, Rajotte L. Projecting Personal Care Home Bed Equivalent Needs in Manitoba Through 2036. Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2012. [Summary] [Full Report] [Errata] (View)
  • Doupe M, Fransoo R, Chateau D, Dik N, Burchill C, Soodeen R-A, Bozat-Emre S, Guenette W. Population Aging and the Continuum of Older Adult Care in Manitoba. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2011. [Summary] [Full Report] (View)
  • Doupe M, Finlayson G, Khan S, Yogendran M, Schultz J, McDougall C, Kulbaba C. Supportive Housing for Seniors: Reform Implications for Manitoba's Older Adult Continuum of Care. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2016. [Summary] [Full Report] (View)
  • Katz A, Martens P, Chateau D, Bogdanovic B, Koseva I, McDougall C, Boriskewich E. Understanding the Health System Use of Ambulatory Care Patients. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2013. [Summary] [Full Report] (View)