GPS tracking in neighborhood and health studies: a step forward for environmental exposure assessment, a step backward for causal inference?

Health Place. 2013 May;21:46-51. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Jan 17.


Recent studies have relied on GPS tracking to assess exposure to environmental characteristics over daily life schedules. Combining GPS and GIS allows for advances in environmental exposure assessment. However, biases related to selective daily mobility preclude assessment of environmental effects, to the extent that these studies may represent a step backward in terms of assessment of causal effects. A solution may be to integrate the Public health / Nutrition approach and the Transportation approach to GPS studies, so as to combine a GPS and accelerometer data collection with an electronic mobility survey. Correcting exposure measures and improving study designs with this approach may permit mitigating biases related to selective daily mobility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Causality
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Research Design
  • Residence Characteristics* / statistics & numerical data
  • Transportation