150220 Illustrating GIS Tools in Population-based Epidemiologic Research

Monday, November 5, 2007: 8:50 AM

David Ahn, PhD , Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Catherine Cubbin, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Naomi Kawakami , Center for Family and Community Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 14183 Huddinge, Sweden
Marilyn A. Winkleby, MPH, PhD , Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
There is a long history of epidemiologists using maps to examine relationships between environments and health. As a result, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are being increasingly used in epidemiologic research. To raise awareness among epidemiologists and the general public health audience of ways to integrate GIS tools in epidemiologic research, the authors illustrate six tools (defining neighborhood geographic boundaries, determining geographic representation of study participants, determining inclusion/exclusion criteria for analytic variables, calculating distance/density variables for analyses, visualizing change over time in neighborhood physical and demographic environments, and disseminating findings to study communities) that were recently applied in a series of population-based studies of neighborhood environments and cardiovascular disease and mortality. The authors discuss potential applications of each tool and relevant issues to consider. The ultimate aim is to increase the application of GIS tools in population-based epidemiological research. Incorporating GIS into epidemiological research requires additional personnel and software costs, and time to facilitate shared understanding of the language used between disciplines and to work out systems for GIS software to be integrated with statistical software. Furthermore, confidentiality concerns must be carefully considered when using GIS to visually display data to avoid identification of research participants and protect other confidential information.

Learning Objectives:
1. Learn about GIS tools that can be used in epidemiological research.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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