Current practices in spatial analysis of cancer data: Mapping health statistics to inform policymakers and the public

B. Sue Bell, Richard E. Hoskins, Linda Williams Pickle, Daniel Wartenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

78 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: To communicate population-based cancer statistics, cancer researchers have a long tradition of presenting data in a spatial representation, or map. Historically, health data were presented in printed atlases in which the map producer selected the content and format. The availability of geographic information systems (GIS) with comprehensive mapping and spatial analysis capability for desktop and Internet mapping has greatly expanded the number of producers and consumers of health maps, including policymakers and the public. Because health maps, particularly ones that show elevated cancer rates, historically have raised public concerns, it is essential that these maps be designed to be accurate, clear, and interpretable for the broad range of users who may view them. This article focuses on designing maps to communicate effectively. It is based on years of research into the use of health maps for communicating among public health researchers. Results: The basics for designing maps that communicate effectively are similar to the basics for any mode of communication. Tasks include deciding on the purpose, knowing the audience and its characteristics, choosing a media suitable for both the purpose and the audience, and finally testing the map design to ensure that it suits the purpose with the intended audience, and communicates accurately and effectively. Special considerations for health maps include ensuring confidentiality and reflecting the uncertainty of small area statistics. Statistical maps need to be based on sound practices and principles developed by the statistical and cartographic communities. Conclusion: The biggest challenge is to ensure that maps of health statistics inform without misinforming. Advances in the sciences of cartography, statistics, and visualization of spatial data are constantly expanding the toolkit available to mapmakers to meet this challenge. Asking potential users to answer questions or to talk about what they see is still the best way to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific map design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number49
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 8 2006

Fingerprint

Spatial Analysis
Health
Statistics
Neoplasms
Research Personnel
Geographic Information Systems
Atlases
Confidentiality
Internet
Uncertainty
Politicians
Spatial analysis
Cancer
Public Health
Communication
Public health
Research
Population
Geographic information systems

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

@article{091c8a1d14a7426eb4b72c43ba5fb1a6,
title = "Current practices in spatial analysis of cancer data: Mapping health statistics to inform policymakers and the public",
abstract = "Background: To communicate population-based cancer statistics, cancer researchers have a long tradition of presenting data in a spatial representation, or map. Historically, health data were presented in printed atlases in which the map producer selected the content and format. The availability of geographic information systems (GIS) with comprehensive mapping and spatial analysis capability for desktop and Internet mapping has greatly expanded the number of producers and consumers of health maps, including policymakers and the public. Because health maps, particularly ones that show elevated cancer rates, historically have raised public concerns, it is essential that these maps be designed to be accurate, clear, and interpretable for the broad range of users who may view them. This article focuses on designing maps to communicate effectively. It is based on years of research into the use of health maps for communicating among public health researchers. Results: The basics for designing maps that communicate effectively are similar to the basics for any mode of communication. Tasks include deciding on the purpose, knowing the audience and its characteristics, choosing a media suitable for both the purpose and the audience, and finally testing the map design to ensure that it suits the purpose with the intended audience, and communicates accurately and effectively. Special considerations for health maps include ensuring confidentiality and reflecting the uncertainty of small area statistics. Statistical maps need to be based on sound practices and principles developed by the statistical and cartographic communities. Conclusion: The biggest challenge is to ensure that maps of health statistics inform without misinforming. Advances in the sciences of cartography, statistics, and visualization of spatial data are constantly expanding the toolkit available to mapmakers to meet this challenge. Asking potential users to answer questions or to talk about what they see is still the best way to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific map design.",
author = "Bell, {B. Sue} and Hoskins, {Richard E.} and Pickle, {Linda Williams} and Daniel Wartenberg",
year = "2006",
month = "11",
day = "8",
doi = "10.1186/1476-072X-5-49",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "5",
journal = "International Journal of Health Geographics",
issn = "1476-072X",
publisher = "BioMed Central",

}

Current practices in spatial analysis of cancer data : Mapping health statistics to inform policymakers and the public. / Bell, B. Sue; Hoskins, Richard E.; Pickle, Linda Williams; Wartenberg, Daniel.

In: International Journal of Health Geographics, Vol. 5, 49, 08.11.2006.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - Current practices in spatial analysis of cancer data

T2 - Mapping health statistics to inform policymakers and the public

AU - Bell, B. Sue

AU - Hoskins, Richard E.

AU - Pickle, Linda Williams

AU - Wartenberg, Daniel

PY - 2006/11/8

Y1 - 2006/11/8

N2 - Background: To communicate population-based cancer statistics, cancer researchers have a long tradition of presenting data in a spatial representation, or map. Historically, health data were presented in printed atlases in which the map producer selected the content and format. The availability of geographic information systems (GIS) with comprehensive mapping and spatial analysis capability for desktop and Internet mapping has greatly expanded the number of producers and consumers of health maps, including policymakers and the public. Because health maps, particularly ones that show elevated cancer rates, historically have raised public concerns, it is essential that these maps be designed to be accurate, clear, and interpretable for the broad range of users who may view them. This article focuses on designing maps to communicate effectively. It is based on years of research into the use of health maps for communicating among public health researchers. Results: The basics for designing maps that communicate effectively are similar to the basics for any mode of communication. Tasks include deciding on the purpose, knowing the audience and its characteristics, choosing a media suitable for both the purpose and the audience, and finally testing the map design to ensure that it suits the purpose with the intended audience, and communicates accurately and effectively. Special considerations for health maps include ensuring confidentiality and reflecting the uncertainty of small area statistics. Statistical maps need to be based on sound practices and principles developed by the statistical and cartographic communities. Conclusion: The biggest challenge is to ensure that maps of health statistics inform without misinforming. Advances in the sciences of cartography, statistics, and visualization of spatial data are constantly expanding the toolkit available to mapmakers to meet this challenge. Asking potential users to answer questions or to talk about what they see is still the best way to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific map design.

AB - Background: To communicate population-based cancer statistics, cancer researchers have a long tradition of presenting data in a spatial representation, or map. Historically, health data were presented in printed atlases in which the map producer selected the content and format. The availability of geographic information systems (GIS) with comprehensive mapping and spatial analysis capability for desktop and Internet mapping has greatly expanded the number of producers and consumers of health maps, including policymakers and the public. Because health maps, particularly ones that show elevated cancer rates, historically have raised public concerns, it is essential that these maps be designed to be accurate, clear, and interpretable for the broad range of users who may view them. This article focuses on designing maps to communicate effectively. It is based on years of research into the use of health maps for communicating among public health researchers. Results: The basics for designing maps that communicate effectively are similar to the basics for any mode of communication. Tasks include deciding on the purpose, knowing the audience and its characteristics, choosing a media suitable for both the purpose and the audience, and finally testing the map design to ensure that it suits the purpose with the intended audience, and communicates accurately and effectively. Special considerations for health maps include ensuring confidentiality and reflecting the uncertainty of small area statistics. Statistical maps need to be based on sound practices and principles developed by the statistical and cartographic communities. Conclusion: The biggest challenge is to ensure that maps of health statistics inform without misinforming. Advances in the sciences of cartography, statistics, and visualization of spatial data are constantly expanding the toolkit available to mapmakers to meet this challenge. Asking potential users to answer questions or to talk about what they see is still the best way to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific map design.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33751250224&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33751250224&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1186/1476-072X-5-49

DO - 10.1186/1476-072X-5-49

M3 - Review article

C2 - 17092353

AN - SCOPUS:33751250224

VL - 5

JO - International Journal of Health Geographics

JF - International Journal of Health Geographics

SN - 1476-072X

M1 - 49

ER -