Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

GIS techniques in health research

Te whakamahi GIS (Pūnaha Mōhiohio Matawhenua) i roto i te rangahau hauora

Update: This course is now full.

Thursday 13 & Friday 14 February 2020

Do you work in urban planning, disease prevention, outbreak detection, health resource allocation, health equity, epidemiology, exposure assessment or healthcare services?

There are spatial aspects to these and many other domains in public health research, primary care and policy. Come learn how to apply geographic techniques (GIS) and use spatial data to make decisions and conduct health research.

This course is offered as a one-day or two-day option. The first day is introductory and the second day includes intermediate to advanced geospatial analysis, using ArcGIS and Microsoft excel software. Register for either day or both.

After day one, you will be able to display spatial health data to make a map, geocode address data, and link tabular data to spatial data. You will also learn to important applications and considerations that are particular to health research and practice to maintain anonymity and make use of publicly available data.

After day two, you will be able to calculate geographic covariates (using distance, buffering and area calculations) and understand geospatial analytical methods including kernel density, kriging, and spatial autocorrelation.

Topics covered

  • Health geography framework, concepts, utility of this approach, areas of investigation
  • Geographic and socio-economic/environmental data related to health, including data sources, data types, spatial resolution and data limitations
  • Criticism of this approach and ecological fallacy
  • Techniques applied in health geography, using case studies:
    • Policy options to reduce children’s exposure to outdoor advertising of unhealthy food
    • Spatial equity of health care services
    • Geospatial approach to measuring the food and activity environments for child health
  • Guided tutorials

Style of course

Computer lab – Hands-on course combining instruction, discussion and practical exercises.
Course attendance is limited to 18 participants.

Who should attend?

This course is aimed at public health, urban planners, statistics and geographic sciences students, researchers and practitioners. The course will help those working in the public sectors seeking to understand the concepts, criticisms and applications of spatial health research.

By the end of this course participants should have the skills to:

  • Develop an awareness of health-related spatial data sources, data types, spatial resolution and data limitations
  • Identify key concepts, criticisms and techniques relevant to spatial health research
  • Be able to apply techniques covered in this course, including making a map, performing functions and calculations, jitter points, and append tabular data
  • Understand the how geographic analyses can be conducted, and know where to get additional information to conduct analyses and more advanced techniques

Draft timetable

Day 1 Introductory

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration  
9:00am Welcome & Overview
Data types, sources, units, map basics, base maps
10:30am Morning tea  
11:00am Overview of ArcGIS, Geocoding
Guided tutorial 1 – data download, geocode, join tabular data using ArcGIS
12:30pm Lunch break  
1:30pm Cartographic principles
Guided tutorial 2 – making a map
Geographic definitions & techniques
3:00pm Afternoon tea  
3:30pm Applications – appending data
Considerations for confidential health data
5:00pm Finish  

Day 2 Intermediate/Advanced

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:45am Coffee (and Registration if Day 1 not attended)
9:00am Welcome Geographic definitions & techniques
Guided tutorial 3 – near, buffer, area, export for regression
10:30am Morning tea
11:00am Kernel density,
Kriging Moran’s I,
Guided tutorial 4
12:30pm Lunch break
1:30pm Examples of non-independence Geographic weighted regression, spatial lag
3:00pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Applications,
Emerging data (GSV, crowd sourcing)
Discussion/questions, your own work
5:00pm Finish

Teaching staff

  • Dr Amber Pearson is an Assistant Professor in Geography at Michigan State University and an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Department of Public Health. She is a health geographer with a focus on social justice. Her research relates to aspects of the built, physical and social environment that bolster health in the face of adversity.
  • Dr Niamh Donnellan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and health geographer in the School of Nursing, University of Auckland. Her research interests include developing and applying novel geospatial methods to better understand relationships between the built environment, health related behaviours such as physical activity and active transport, and child health. Her work also includes developing and evaluating interventions to support children’s active school travel.

Course cost and registration

Note you can choose to register for one day or two days. Please ensure you tick all applicable days you wish to attend on the registration form.

The cost for attending one day is $300 early bird, $400 after 19 December 2019.

The cost for attending two days is $600 early bird, $800 after 19 December 2019.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now