Spatialising health research: What we know and where we are heading

Tse Chuan Yang, Carla Shoff, Aggie J. Noah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Beyond individual-level factors, researchers have adopted a spatial perspective to explore potentially modifiable environmental determinants of health. A spatial perspective can be integrated into health research by incorporating spatial data into studies or analysing georeferenced data. Given the rapid changes in data collection methods and the complex dynamics between individuals and environment, we argue that geographical information system (GIS) functions have shortcomings with respect to analytical capability and are limited when it comes to visualizing the temporal component in spatio- temporal data. In addition, we maintain that relatively little effort has been made to handle spatial heterogeneity. To that end, health researchers should be persuaded to better justify the theoretical meaning underlying the spatial matrix in analysis, while spatial data collectors, GIS specialists, spatial analysis methodologists and the different breeds of users should be encouraged to work together making health research move forward through addressing these issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalGeospatial health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Geographical information systems
  • Health research
  • Spatial analysis
  • Spatial data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Health Policy


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