(Un)mapping digital social inequality of health: The COVID-19 and Medical Crowdfunding

Authors: Jin-Kyu Jung*, University of Washington-Bothell, Nora Kenworthy, University of Washington-Bothell
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: health inequity, medical crowdfunding, digital geography, qualitative GIS
Session Type: Virtual Paper
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People are increasing turning to medical crowdfunding to solicit financial assistance for medical care when more robust safety nets and systems of resilience fail. Medical campaigns now make up more than a third of all fundraising efforts on sites such as Gofundme. Gofundme site controls more than 90% of the donation-based crowdfunding market, money raised by campaigns increased from $1 to $4 billion between 2015 and 2017. The main goal of this project is to investigate how the growing use of medical crowdfunding (MCF) on sites such as Gofundme is related to, or even exacerbates, health inequity across the U.S. By integrating both digital qualitative analysis and GIS-based spatial analyses and visualization, this paper offers an integrative methodological approach for studying socio-spatial inequality and marginalization in medical crowdfunding campaigns, in particular related to the pandemic. It specifically addresses the ways health and social/spatial inequalities influence medical crowdfunding as a way to assess how crowdfunding prevalence, campaign spread, and fundraised success correlate with disparity. Considering the merging discussions in the geographic analysis of big social/spatial data, a qualitative GIS approach may provide one way we can articulate and elicit digitally mediated disparities that are happening in both material and digital spaces.

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