Where are the Maps in Studies of Neighborhood Health?

Authors: Brittany Krzyzanowski*, University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, Ruthie Burrows, University of Minnesota
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Medical and Health Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Neighborhood, Spatial Epidemiology, Geovisualization, Maps, Geographic Information Science
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 19
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Despite obvious advantages, there is a startling lack of maps within the neighborhood health literature. Just as data visualizations, such as scatter plots and histograms, are vital to the initial steps of data analysis, so too are maps within neighborhood health. A systematic review of 148 articles published between 2000 and 2020 was performed and a survey was conducted to assess author motivation and to identify barriers to sharing (or not sharing) maps. Of the 148 articles, only 40 contained maps. The proportion of maps found within the literature steadily increased over time with the greatest proportion appearing within the last half decade. Results indicated that the majority (68%) of investigators created maps or used mapping software to explore questions of neighborhood health. Despite this, only a small proportion (27%) of the maps created was actually shared. Survey results indicated that the primary reason for abstaining from sharing maps was the belief that a map would not add value beyond what was provided by statistical models. Other common barriers included time constraints, HIPAA regulations, and journal restrictions. The survey indicated that most authors (>80%) reported results in the form of point estimates from regression output. While correlation or regression coefficients do a good job at describing the general strength and nature of how two variables coexist in space, maps are needed to understand important, hidden nuances unfolding across neighborhoods. Fortunately, the majority of the reviewed studies used GIS in some form and this figure appears to be increasing over time.

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