180756 GIS: An integrative curricular approach to community health assessment

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 10:50 AM

Bradley A. Jamison, PhD, MPH , School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Sara R. Graham, BS, MPH(c) , Department of Global Health, Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Loma Linda, CA
Donn P. Gaede, PhD, MPH , Department of Global Health, Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Loma Linda, CA
Background. The growing popularity of GIS has led to calls for greater use by public health professionals in the assessment and planning for healthy communities. At Loma Linda University GIS training is integrated in the Primary Health Care course to map assets and risk factors within select communities of San Bernardino, CA. Students learn to use GIS for data collection in health programming and to provide community partners with GIS outputs highlighting relevant community issues.

Purpose. The purpose is to involve students in a community learning activity using GIS methods and technology. Each class builds on previous years' data to improve the quality of health programming research within their communities and provide community partners with detailed, visual representations of community assets and risk factors. In the process students become familiar with the use of GIS as a community assessment tool early in their public health education.

Methods. GIS data is collected in broad categories of food security, transportation and advertising, health and safety, community assets, and environmental hazards. Additional data such as US Census, county parcels, satellite imagery, enrich the data. Layers are highlighted to portray significant findings. Students produce maps using ArcGIS software, which are included in group presentations and shared with community partners.

Results. By integrating GIS in the MPH curriculum, more students take GIS classes and complete the certificate. In addition, community partners benefit from student-produced maps and reports. The community maps have led to focused discussions for community planning.

Discussion. The integrating of GIS in the curriculum has proved time-intensive. A data repository has been collected which will require even more coordination from faculty with other community stakeholders. However, the result will be a rich data source which will facilitate improved health research and planning for future students.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, the participant will be able to: 1) Learn how GIS is integrated in the public health curriculum at Loma Linda University 2) Understand the benefits of using GIS for community assessments 3) Evaluate the value of integrating GIS in other curriculum programs

Keywords: Community Health Assessment, Geographic Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Because I taught GIS in this course and I wrote this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.