Monday, February 3, 2014

Five Essential Properties of Disease Maps

Five Essential Properties of Disease Maps 

Kirsten M. M. Beyer, Chetan Tiwari & Gerard Rushton (2012): Five Essential Properties of Disease Maps,
Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102:5, 1067-1075

This article discusses how disease maps are growing in popularity around the world and it is becoming more and more important to be able to map diseases properly. Some of the major problems that scientists are facing when creating these maps include "1) rates based on small populations are more variable and less reliable 2) the choice of aerial unit can change the observed spatial pattern 4) mapping a rate by a predetermined unit prevents the exploration of true spatial variation within it."

The approach that these researchers took was to create a method for making disease maps and implement it into a web based diseased mapping system. From what I understood, the web program the created has an adaptive spatial filtering in order to counter the problems that they have been facing. This is an example of how they mapped disease in a certain area. They used colors and regions and mapped disease by age and rate.

The conclusion that they came to was that using this method, they would be able to better inform of disease prevention and control efforts. However, their method is not perfect. They are hoping that some day they will be able to use this form of GIS to address the potential problem of "1) including information from different locations or different settings and 2) if their limitations constitute an inability to examine the role of local environmental processes on risk."

I thought this was an interesting article because it showed how important GIS can be when it comes to basic public health. One of their main examples was mapping cancer in Iowa. So many people are diagnosed with cancer these days and the fact that we can map it using GIS can help us figure out if there is a pattern or source that could be causing it and start with control efforts.  

1 comment:

  1. This could be an excellent source in determining disease outbreaks and trends throughout the world, provided all information was posted on an online database.