Interactive spatial data analysis in medical geography

Soc Sci Med. 1996 Mar;42(6):843-55. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(95)00183-2.


Interactive spatial data analysis involves the use of software environments that permit the visualization, exploration and, perhaps, modelling of geographically-referenced data. Such systems are of obvious value in epidemiological research, both of an environmental and geographical nature. There is an increasing number of such software environments available on a variety of platforms and operating systems. This paper considers the use of the proprietary Geographical Information System, ARC/INFO, in a spatial analysis context, showing how the spatial analytic tools that may be added to it can be exploited by geographical epidemiologists; such tools include those for modelling possible raised incidence of disease around suspected sources of pollution. The paper also reviews the use of systems such as S-Plus and XLISP-STAT, statistical programming environments to which spatial analysis functions or libraries may be added. The use of INFO-MAP, a system designed to aid in the teaching of interactive spatial data analysis, is also highlighted. The various software environments are illustrated with reference to examples concerned with: clustering of childhood leukaemia in part of Lancashire, England; Burkitt's lymphoma in Uganda; larynx cancer in Lancashire; and childhood mortality in Auckland, New Zealand.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • England
  • Epidemiology*
  • Geography*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mathematical Computing*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Mortality
  • New Zealand
  • Software*