Exploring the role of GIS during community health assessment problem solving: Experiences of public health professionals

Matthew Scotch, Bambang Parmanto, Cynthia S. Gadd, Ravi K. Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: A Community health assessment (CHA) involves the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in conjunction with other software to analyze health and population data and perform numerical-spatial problem solving. There has been little research on identifying how public health professionals integrate this software during typical problem solving scenarios. A better understanding of this is needed to answer the "What" and the "How". The "What" identifies the specific software being used and the "How" explains the way they are integrated together during problem solving steps. This level of understanding will highlight the role of GIS utilization during problem solving and suggest to developers how GIS can be enhanced to better support data analysis during community health assessment. Results: An online survey was developed to identify the information technology used during CHA analysis. The tasks were broken down into steps and for our analysis these steps were categorized by action: Data Management/Access, Data Navigation, Geographic Comparison, Detection of Spatial Boundaries, Spatial Modelling, and Ranking Analysis. 27 CHA professionals completed the survey, with the majority of participants (14) being from health departments. Statistical software (e.g. SPSS) was the most popular software for all but one of the types of steps. For this step (detection of spatial boundaries), GIS was identified as the most popular technology. Conclusion: Most CHA professionals indicated they use statistical software in conjunction with GIS. The statistical software appears to drive the analysis, while GIS is used primarily for simple spatial display (and not complex spatial analysis).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
JournalInternational journal of health geographics
StatePublished - Sep 18 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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