Exploring spatial patterns of mortality: the new atlas of United States mortality

Stat Med. 1999 Dec 15;18(23):3211-20. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0258(19991215)18:23<3211::aid-sim311>3.0.co;2-q.


The National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, has produced an Atlas of United States Mortality which includes maps of rates for the leading causes of death in the United States for the period 1988-1992. As part of this project, many aspects of statistical mapping have been re-examined to maximize the atlas's effectiveness in conveying accurate mortality patterns to epidemiologists and public health practitioners. Because recent cognitive research demonstrated that no one map style is optimal for answering many different map questions, maps and graphs of several different mortality statistics are included for each cause of death. New mixed effects models were developed to provide predicted rates and improved variance estimates. Results from these models were smoothed using a weighted head-banging algorithm to produce maps of general spatial trends free of background noise. Maps of White female lung cancer rates from the new atlas are presented here to illustrate how this innovative combination of maps and graphs permits greater exploration of the underlying mortality data than is possible from previous single-map atlas designs. Published in 1999 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the United States.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Public Health*
  • Small-Area Analysis*
  • United States / epidemiology