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Using Geographic Methods to Understand Health Issues

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For Further Study

Barrett, RE. Using the 1990 U.S. Census for Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 1994.

Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences Working Group. The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care in the United States. Chicago, IL: American Hospital Publishing, 1996.

Clarke, KC. Analytical and Computer Cartography. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1990.

Cliff AD and Haggett P. Atlas of Disease Distributions: Analytic Approaches to Epidemiological Data. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1988.

Elliott P, Cuzick J, English D, and Stern R. Geographical and Environmental Epidemiology: Methods for Small-Area Studies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Florin JW. Health services regionalization in the United States. Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Medical Geography, Studies in Geography No. 7. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1980.

Fry JD and Young W. The Health Care Data Source Book; Finding the Right Information and Making the Most of It. Chicago, IL: American Hospital Publishing, 1992.

Garson GD and Biggs RS. Analytic Mapping and Geographic Databases. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 1992.

GIS World (Periodical). Fort Collins, CO.

Joseph AE and Phillips DR. Accessibility and Utilization: Geographical Perspectives on Health Care Delivery. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.

Makower J (editor). The Map Catalog: Every Kind of Map and Chart on Earth and Even Some above It. 3rd edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.

Meade MS, Florin JW, Gesler WM. Medical Geography. New York: Guilford Press, 1988.

Monmonier M. How to Lie with Maps. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Odegaard CE. Eleven Area Health Education Centers: The View from the Grass Roots. A report for the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1980.

Ricketts TC, Savitz LA, Gesler WM, Osborne DN. Geographic Methods for Health Services Research: A Focus on the Rural-Urban Continuum. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc., 1994.

Rodcay GK (editor). GIS World Sourcebook. Fort Collins, CO: GIS World, Inc., 1996.

Shannon GW and Pyle GF. Disease and Medical Care in the United States: A Medical Atlas of the Twentieth Century. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1993.

Shannon GW, Pyle GF, and Bashshur RL. The Geography of AIDS: Origins and Course of an Epidemic. New York: Guilford Press, 1991.

Star J and Estes J. Geographic Information Systems: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1990.

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Technical Notes

The development of Geographic Methods for Health Services Research: A Focus on the Rural-Urban Continuum, the book on which this publication is based, is an example of the use of multiple operating systems, software packages, and machine configurations. The editorial team and the authors of the chapters made use of many different commercially available products to illustrate the techniques discussed and to bring the final document to publication.

The final text and illustrations for the book were produced using PageMaker® versions 4.2a and 5.0. The text and graphics were processed on a Macintosh IIfx, Macintosh IIcx, and Macintosh Centris 650, using 20, 8, and 24 megabytes of internal memory, respectively, with operating systems 6.4, 7.0.1, and 7.1. Because software and operating systems evolve so rapidly, there have been multiple changes in versions of the operating system as well as the application software packages used. The camera-ready pages were imaged on an Apple LaserWriter Pro 630 at 600 dots per inch and used by University Press of America for final page makeup.

To create the maps used in the text, the authors and cartographers used several packages, mostly working within the Macintosh environment, although occasionally maps were created originally using DOS or Windows® software. We refer to full-size GIS systems (Geographic Information Systems) in the book, and the authors from the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made use of the ARC/INFO® system installed at the Geography Department to develop maps and analyses summarized here. This system is mounted on SUN workstations, using the UNIX operating system, with 48-64 megabytes of internal memory per workstation. Data sets for the mapping and analysis examples were generally manipulated on the mainframe computer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which includes an IBM 3090-170 mainframe computer, several VAX 6330 minicomputers and a Convex C240 supercomputer. All of these are network accessible and are maintained by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Office of Information Technology. The interface with the mainframe was through WYLBUR, and most data sets were managed using the SAS® system.

Data sets were downloaded to mapping and graphics packages in text (ASCII) format and were occasionally manipulated using statistical packages such as StatView® or JMP® on microcomputers. Graphing of data was primarily done using DeltaGraph Professional®; the population pyramids were created using IPSS®. Final imaging for inclusion in PageMaker® format used FreeHand®, SuperPaint®, and MacDraw II®. Maps were produced using MapInfo® versions 1.0 and 2.0, Atlas Mapmaker® version 4.5, Atlas Pro® version1.0, and Geoquery®. MapInfo® was used in both the Macintosh and Windows® environments. For information on training sessions, call the customer service numbers listed in the next section, Selected Software Manufacturers.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census were obtained from CD-ROM disks and downloaded using FoxBase®. Some detailed maps were produced from TIGER line files (1990 version) and were transported into the graphics environment using TIGER Massage®.

Special data sets were used for some maps and analyses or were discussed in the chapters as potential sources for baseline maps or for basic levels of data to be used in GIS applications. These ranged from the generally applicable Census files such as the Summary Tape Files (STF), which include the entire U.S. population and special samples of the population, to special-use tapes and data sets, including the AIDS Public Information Data Set available from the National Center for Infectious Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, Georgia.

To explore maps in more depth, consult The Map Catalog: Every Kind of Map and Chart on Earth and Even Some Above It, Third Edition, published by Vintage Books. Another guide to the use of mapping that readers might find useful is Analytical Mapping and Geographic Databases, by G. David Garson and Robert S. Biggs, published by Sage as part of their series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences.

Those interested in listings of mapping programs should refer to the GIS World Sourcebook, 1996, published by GIS World, or review recent issues of GIS World, a monthly magazine aimed at the more complex system user. Local college and university geography and social science departments can also offer a wealth of information, guidance, and resources in medical geography.

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Selected Software Manufacturers

Adobe® Illustrator®, Adobe® PageMaker®, and Adobe® SuperPaint®:
Adobe Systems Inc.
1585 Charleston Road
Mountain View, CA 94039
(415) 961-4400

Atlas GIS® 3.0 for Windows®:
Strategic Mapping, Inc.
3135 Kifer Road
Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 970-9600

DeltaGraph Professional®:
DeltaPoint, Inc.
2 Harris Court, Suite B-1
Monterey, CA 93940
(408) 648-4000

Microsoft® Corporation,
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
(800) 426-9400, (206) 882-8080

P.O. Box 206
Naperville, IL 60566-0206
(708) 357-0535

Senecio Software, Inc.
525 Ridge St.
Bowling Green,OH 43402
(419) 352-4371

SAS Institute Inc.
SAS Campus Drive
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 677-8000

MacDraw Pro®:
Claris Corporation
5201 Patrick Henry Drive, Box 58168
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8168
(408) 987-7000

MacroMedia FreeHand®:
MacroMedia, Inc.
600 Townsend
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-2000

MapInfo Corporation
One Global View
Troy, NY 12180
(800) 327-8627

Abacus Concepts, Inc.
1918 Bonita Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 540-1949

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Authors, Grant Information, and Citation

Prepared for:

Agency for Health Care Policy and Research
U.S. Public Health Service
Department of Health and Human Services
Grant Number HS06706-02

Prepared by:

Thomas C. Ricketts, Ph.D.
Lucy A. Savitz, Ph.D.
Wilbert M Gesler, Ph.D.
Diana N. Osborne, B.A.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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AHCPR Publication No. 97-N013
Current as of March 1997


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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