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The Next Frontier in Health Geography: Context and Implications for Interventions

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2018) | Viewed by 36856

Special Issue Editors

GIS Health and Hazards Lab, Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242-0001, USA
Interests: spatial video geonarratives; GIS and context; fine scale health interventions; challenging environment spatial data collection
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Curtis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
GIS Health and Hazards Lab, Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242-0001, USA
Interests: neighborhood ecology; environmental perception; local knowledge; maternal child health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A growing body of evidence points to the complexity of geographic contexts in shaping health outcomes, and their implications for interventions. Despite awareness of this complexity, it is challenging for spatial investigations to fully account for its presence. For example, there is a dearth of guidance on the identification and representation of the dynamic spatial and temporal scales that often interact to yield a particular outcome. In addition to scale, questions are emerging about the suitability of “official” data, the potential role for local knowledge or other “unofficial” data, and how these potentially disparate sources can be meaningfully integrated in a Geographic Information System. To address such challenges, a new frontier of health geography is emerging; one that is focusing on new forms of geospatial technologies, novel methods and analytical approaches including customized software development, and means to capture physical and social context. In this Special Issue we invite researchers who use spatial data to showcase their new methods and applications for any health problem, in any health setting. The only limitations are that the project must highlight approaches that advance understanding of geographic context in health and its implications for intervention.

Prof. Dr. Andrew Curtis
Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Curtis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • GIS and Health
  • Health Geography
  • Medical Geography
  • Context
  • Spatial Epidemiology

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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2 pages, 218 KiB  
Editorial
The Next Frontier in Health Geography: Context and Implications for Interventions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(8), 1457; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081457 - 24 Apr 2019
Viewed by 2337
Abstract
During an opening panel of the 2018 International Health Congress in Oxford, a question was raised as to how protection could be offered to young researchers in particular who explore new ideas [...] Full article

Research

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17 pages, 328 KiB  
Article
Associations between Obesity, Obesogenic Environments, and Structural Racism Vary by County-Level Racial Composition
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 861; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050861 - 09 Mar 2019
Cited by 65 | Viewed by 8395
Abstract
Obesity rates in the U.S. are associated with area-level, food-related characteristics. Studies have previously examined the role of structural racism (policies/practices that advantaged White Americans and deprived other racial/ethnic minority groups), but racial inequalities in socioeconomic status (SES) is a novel indicator. The [...] Read more.
Obesity rates in the U.S. are associated with area-level, food-related characteristics. Studies have previously examined the role of structural racism (policies/practices that advantaged White Americans and deprived other racial/ethnic minority groups), but racial inequalities in socioeconomic status (SES) is a novel indicator. The aim of this study is to determine the associations between racial inequalities in SES with obesity and obesogenic environments. Data from 2007–2014 County Health Rankings and 2012–2016 County Business Patterns were combined to assess the associations between relative SES comparing Blacks to Whites with obesity, and number of grocery stores and fast food restaurants in U.S. counties. Random effects linear and Poisson regressions were used and stratified by county racial composition. Racial inequality in poverty, unemployment, and homeownership were associated with higher obesity rates. Racial inequality in median income, college graduates, and unemployment were associated with fewer grocery stores and more fast food restaurants. Associations varied by county racial composition. The results demonstrate that a novel indicator of structural racism on the county-level is associated with obesity and obesogenic environments. Associations vary by SES measure and county racial composition, suggesting the ability for targeted interventions to improve obesogenic environments and policies to eliminate racial inequalities in SES. Full article
6 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Geographic Context of Risk Perception and Behavioral Response to Potential Ebola Exposure
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 831; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050831 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2705
Abstract
The 2014–2016 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic outbreak reached over 28,000 cases and totaled over 11,000 deaths with 4 confirmed cases in the United States, which sparked widespread public concern about nationwide spread of EVD. Concern was elevated in locations connected to the [...] Read more.
The 2014–2016 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic outbreak reached over 28,000 cases and totaled over 11,000 deaths with 4 confirmed cases in the United States, which sparked widespread public concern about nationwide spread of EVD. Concern was elevated in locations connected to the infected people, which included Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. This threat of exposure enabled a unique opportunity to assess self-reported knowledge about EVD, risk perception, and behavior response to EVD. Unlike existing studies, which often survey one point in time across geographically coarse scales, this work offers insights into the geographic context of risk perception and behavior at finer-grained spatial and temporal scales. We report results from 3138 respondents comprised of faculty, staff, and students at two time periods. Results reveal increased EVD knowledge, decreased risk perception, and reduction in protective actions during this time. Faculty had the lowest perceived risk, followed by staff and then students, suggesting the role of education in this outcome. However, the most impactful result is the proof-of-concept for this study design to be deployed in the midst of a disease outbreak. Such geographically targeted and temporally dynamic surveys distributed during an outbreak can show where and when risk perception and behaviors change, which can provide policy-makers with rapid results that can shape intervention practices. Full article
18 pages, 3325 KiB  
Article
Micro-Space Complexity and Context in the Space-Time Variation in Enteric Disease Risk for Three Informal Settlements of Port au Prince, Haiti
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 807; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050807 - 05 Mar 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2663
Abstract
Diffusion of cholera and other diarrheal diseases in an informal settlement is a product of multiple behavioral, environmental and spatial risk factors. One of the most important components is the spatial interconnections among water points, drainage ditches, toilets and the intervening environment. This [...] Read more.
Diffusion of cholera and other diarrheal diseases in an informal settlement is a product of multiple behavioral, environmental and spatial risk factors. One of the most important components is the spatial interconnections among water points, drainage ditches, toilets and the intervening environment. This risk is also longitudinal and variable as water points fluctuate in relation to bacterial contamination. In this paper we consider part of this micro space complexity for three informal settlements in Port au Prince, Haiti. We expand on more typical epidemiological analysis of fecal coliforms at water points, drainage ditches and ocean sites by considering the importance of single point location fluctuation coupled with recording micro-space environmental conditions around each sample site. Results show that spatial variation in enteric disease risk occurs within neighborhoods, and that while certain trends are evident, the degree of individual site fluctuation should question the utility of both cross-sectional and more aggregate analysis. Various factors increase the counts of fecal coliform present, including the type of water point, how water was stored at that water point, and the proximity of the water point to local drainage. Some locations fluctuated considerably between being safe and unsafe on a monthly basis. Next steps to form a more comprehensive contextualized understanding of enteric disease risk in these environments should include the addition of behavioral factors and local insight. Full article
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15 pages, 5320 KiB  
Article
The Use of Geonarratives to Add Context to Fine Scale Geospatial Research
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 515; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030515 - 12 Feb 2019
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3816
Abstract
There has been a move towards using mixed method approaches in geospatial research to gain context in understanding health related social patterns and processes. The central premise is that official data is often too reductionist and misses’ nuances that can help explain causality. [...] Read more.
There has been a move towards using mixed method approaches in geospatial research to gain context in understanding health related social patterns and processes. The central premise is that official data is often too reductionist and misses’ nuances that can help explain causality. One example is the geonarrative, a spatially relevant commentary or interview that can be mapped by content and/or location. While there have been several examples of geonarratives being used by researchers, there is no commonly available software that can easily transfer the associated text into spatial data. Having a standardized software platform is vital if these methods are to be used across different disciplines. This paper presents an overview of a solution, Wordmapper (WM), which is a standalone software developed to process geonarratives from a transcription and associated global positioning system (GPS) path. Apart from querying textual narrative data, Wordmapper facilitates qualitative coding which could be used to extract latent contextual information from the narratives. In order to improve interoperability, Wordmapper provides spatialized narrative data in formats, such as ESRI shape files, Keyhole Markup Language (KML), and Comma Separated Values (CSV). A case study based on five different spatial video geonarratives (SVG) collected to assess the human impacts following the 2011 Joplin, Missouri are used for illustration. Full article
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13 pages, 7327 KiB  
Article
Spatial Video Health Risk Mapping in Informal Settlements: Correcting GPS Error
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010033 - 24 Dec 2018
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3660
Abstract
Informal settlements pose a continuing health concern. While spatial methodologies have proven to be valuable tools to support health interventions, several factors limit their widespread use in these challenging environments. One such technology, spatial video, has been used for fine-scale contextualized mapping. In [...] Read more.
Informal settlements pose a continuing health concern. While spatial methodologies have proven to be valuable tools to support health interventions, several factors limit their widespread use in these challenging environments. One such technology, spatial video, has been used for fine-scale contextualized mapping. In this paper, we address one of the limitations of the technique: the global positioning system (GPS) coordinate error. More specifically, we show how spatial video coordinate streams can be corrected and synced back to the original video to facilitate risk mapping. Past spatial video collections for the Mathare informal settlement of Kenya are used as an illustration as these data had been previously discarded because of excessive GPS error. This paper will describe the bespoke software that makes these corrections possible, and then will go on to investigate patterns in the coordinate error. Full article
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20 pages, 5299 KiB  
Article
Neighborhood Violence Impacts Disease Control and Surveillance: Case Study of Cali, Colombia from 2014 to 2016
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2144; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102144 - 29 Sep 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5409
Abstract
Arboviruses are responsible for a large burden of disease globally and are thus subject to intense epidemiological scrutiny. However, a variable notably absent from most epidemiological analyses has been the impact of violence on arboviral transmission and surveillance. Violence impedes surveillance and delivery [...] Read more.
Arboviruses are responsible for a large burden of disease globally and are thus subject to intense epidemiological scrutiny. However, a variable notably absent from most epidemiological analyses has been the impact of violence on arboviral transmission and surveillance. Violence impedes surveillance and delivery of health and preventative services and affects an individual’s health-related behaviors when survival takes priority. Moreover, low and middle-income countries bear a disproportionately high burden of violence and related health outcomes, including vector borne diseases. To better understand the epidemiology of arboviral outbreaks in Cali, Colombia, we georeferenced chikungunya (CHIKV), dengue (DENV), and Zika (ZIKV) viral cases from The National System of Surveillance in Public Health between October 2014 and April 2016. We extracted homicide data from the municipal monthly reports and kernel density of homicide distribution from IdeasPaz. Crucially, an overall higher risk of homicide is associated with increased risk of reported DENV, lower rates of acute testing, and higher rates of lab versus clinical discordance. In the context of high violence as a potential barrier to access to preventive health services, a community approach to improve health and peace should be considered. Full article
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Other

Jump to: Editorial, Research

14 pages, 1414 KiB  
Perspective
Modeling R0 for Pathogens with Environmental Transmission: Animal Movements, Pathogen Populations, and Local Infectious Zones
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 954; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16060954 - 17 Mar 2019
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 7152
Abstract
How a disease is transmitted affects our ability to determine R0, the average number of new cases caused by an infectious host at the onset of an epidemic. R0 becomes progressively more difficult to compute as transmission varies from directly [...] Read more.
How a disease is transmitted affects our ability to determine R0, the average number of new cases caused by an infectious host at the onset of an epidemic. R0 becomes progressively more difficult to compute as transmission varies from directly transmitted diseases to diseases that are vector-borne to environmentally transmitted diseases. Pathogens responsible for diseases with environmental transmission are typically maintained in environmental reservoirs that exhibit a complex spatial distribution of local infectious zones (LIZs). Understanding host encounters with LIZs and pathogen persistence within LIZs is required for an accurate R0 and modeling these contacts requires an integrated geospatial and dynamical systems approach. Here we review how interactions between host and pathogen populations and environmental reservoirs are driven by landscape-level variables, and synthesize the quantitative framework needed to formulate outbreak response and disease control. Full article
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