Public health, GIS, and spatial analytic tools

Annu Rev Public Health. 2003;24:43-56. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.24.012902.140843. Epub 2002 Oct 23.


We review literature that uses spatial analytic tools in contexts where Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is the organizing system for health data or where the methods discussed will likely be incorporated in GIS-based analyses in the future. We conclude the review with the point of view that this literature is moving toward the development and use of systems of analysis that integrate the information geo-coding and data base functions of GISystems with the geo-information processing functions of GIScience. The rapidity of this projected development will depend on the perceived needs of the public health community for spatial analysis methods to provide decision support. Recent advances in the analysis of disease maps have been influenced by and benefited from the adoption of new practices for georeferencing health data and new ways of linking such data geographically to potential sources of environmental exposures, the locations of health resources and the geodemographic characteristics of populations. This review focuses on these advances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Humans
  • Public Health Informatics*
  • Public Health*
  • United States