Socha, Y. M., Oelschlegel, S., Vaughn, C. J., & Earl, M. (2012). Improving an outreach service by analyzing the relationship of health information disparities to socioeconomic indicators using geographic information systems. J Med Lib Assoc, 100 (3), 222-225.
Disparity in income and other resources has long been known to have an effect on the assistance, as well as knowledge of potential assistance sources, for different communities. Many organizations attempting to educate and provide services to communities have struggled with outreach campaigns due to the difficulty in pinpointing specific regions of the communities they serve that require the most attention to make such campaigns successful in their goals.
One such organization, the Preston Medical Library in Preston, Tennessee, provides a free over-the-telephone service called the Consumer and Patient Health Information Service (CAPHIS). Community members can call CAPHIS with questions regarding health information and the staff will respond over the phone and with information packets sent in the mail. Unfortunately, some of the regions of the community most in need of the free service often were unaware of its existence.In order to yield a more successful outreach campaign to account for some of this disparity, Library staff combined location data from calls to CAPHIS (zip codes) and county data from the U.S. Census regarding race, age, disease, and socio-economic levels in the ArcMap program. This allowed staff members to identify regions of the county that had a higher rate of disease or a larger number of elderly or low-income individuals and yet from which there was little to no record of calls to CAPHIS. The spatial analysis created in ArcMap with the combined data provided Library staff the information needed to improve their outreach campaigns in a very clear manner that was easy to understand, highlighting one of the many potential uses of GIS programs in community development/service organizations.