Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mathematics and Statistics

First Advisor

Dr. Xin Qi

Second Advisor

Dr. Gengsheng Qin

Third Advisor

Dr. Yichuan Zhao


Previous healthcare-based studies have reported increasing herpes zoster (HZ) incidence over time; however, this could be an artifact of increased healthcare utilization. This study is a cross-sectional analysis of 15,103 respondents in the 2008 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to evaluate changes in HZ incidence from 1940 to 2008. Negative binomial regression is used to model the effect of calendar year, age of onset of HZ, gender and race/ethnicity on HZ incidence. A nonparametric method based on B-spline basis expansion is used to model the effect of calendar year to avoid imposing a predetermined functional form and produce flexible and accurate estimates. This study demonstrates increasing HZ incidence from 1940 to 2008 using self-reported HZ. Although the reason for this increase remains unknown, this study supports the assertion that this trend is real and not an artifact of increasing healthcare utilization for HZ over time.