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Spatially Integrated Social Science: Chapter 18
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Spatial Perspectives in Public Health
Anthony C. Gatrell and Janette E. Rigby

A full understanding of the health of the population requires perspectives from a wide range of disciplines, covering the social, environmental and natural sciences. Since those at risk of disease, or with varying health status, occupy, and move among, a variety of locations, and since the factors that shape their health also have particular spatial configurations, it is unsurprising that a spatial perspective on public health is essential. Here, we show how such a perspective illuminates the understanding of three broad disease areas–HIV/AIDS; breast cancer; and skin disease. We consider a range of spatial analytic methods that shed light on disease distribution. The set of spatial analytic methods covered here includes those for creating maps in non-geographical spaces, as well as techniques for detecting spatial clustering among area and point pattern data.

We next ask how a spatial perspective helps understand the social patterning of health inequalities, considering such inequalities at both regional and local scales. Here, we suggest the appropriateness of a GIS perspective, used to shed light on differential access to health care facilities as well as proximity to sources of environmental contamination.


Figure 18.4


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