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Int J Health Geogr [journal]
- How do changes to the built environment influence walking behaviors? a longitudinal study within a university campus in Hong Kong. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jul 28; 13(1):28.
Previous studies testing the association between the built environment and walking behavior have been largely cross-sectional and have yielded mixed results. This study reports on a natural experiment in which changes to the built environment were implemented at a university campus in Hong Kong. Longitudinal data on walking behaviors were collected using surveys, one before and one after changes to the built environment, to test the influence of changes to the built environment on walking behavior.Built environment data are from a university campus in Hong Kong, and include land use, campus bus services, pedestrian network, and population density data collected from campus maps, the university developmental office, and field surveys. Walking behavior data were collected at baseline in March 2012 (n = 198) and after changes to the built environment from the same cohort of subjects in December 2012 (n = 169) using a walking diary. Geographic information systems (GIS) was used to map walking routes and built environment variables, and compare each subject's walking behaviors and built environment exposure before and after the changes to the built environment. Walking behavior outcomes were changes in: i) walking distance, ii) destination-oriented walking, and iii) walked altitude range. Multivariable linear regression models were used to test for associations between changes to the built environment and changes in walking behaviors.Greater pedestrian network connectivity predicted longer walking distances and an increased likelihood of walking as a means of transportation. The increased use of recreational (vs. work) buildings, largely located at mid-range altitudes, as well as increased population density predicted greater walking distances.Having more bus services and a greater population density encouraged people to increase their walked altitude range.In this longitudinal study, changes to the built environment were associated with changes in walking behaviors. Use of GIS combined with walking diaries presents a practical method for mapping and measuring changes in the built environment and walking behaviors, respectively. Additional longitudinal studies can help clarify the relationships between the built environment and walking behaviors identified in this natural experiment.
- A comparison of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2004 with the 2009 + 1 SIMD: does choice of measure affect the interpretation of inequality in mortality? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jul 8; 13(1):27.
There is a growing international literature assessing inequalities in health and mortality by area based measures. However, there are few works comparing measures available to inform research design. The analysis here seeks to begin to address this issue by assessing whether there are important differences in the relationship between deprivation and inequalities in mortality when measures that have been constructed at different time points are compared.We contrast whether the interpretation of inequalities in all-cause mortality between the years 2008-10 changes in Scotland if we apply the earliest (2004) and the 2009 + 1 releases of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) to make this comparison. The 2004 release is based on data from 2001/2 and the 2009 + 1 release is based on data from 2008/9. The slope index of inequality (SII) and 1:10 ratio are used to summarise inequalities standardised by age/sex using population and mortality records.The 1:10 ratio suggests some differences in the magnitude of inequalities measured using SIMD at different time points. However, the SII shows much closer correspondence.Overall the findings show that substantive conclusions in relation to inequalities in all-cause mortality are little changed by the updated measure. This information is beneficial to researchers as the most recent measures are not always available. This adds to the body of literature showing stability in inequalities in health and mortality by geographical deprivation over time.
- Environmental predictors of West Nile fever risk in Europe. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jul 1; 13(1):26.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne pathogen of global public health importance. Transmission of WNV is determined by abiotic and biotic factors. The objective of this study was to examine environmental variables as predictors of WNV risk in Europe and neighboring countries, considering the anomalies of remotely sensed water and vegetation indices and of temperature at the locations of West Nile fever (WNF) outbreaks reported in humans between 2002 and 2013.The status of infection by WNV in relationship to environmental and climatic risk factors was analyzed at the district level using logistic regression models. Temperature, remotely sensed Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI) anomalies, as well as population, birds' migratory routes, and presence of wetlands were considered as explanatory variables.The anomalies of temperature in July, of MNDWI in early June, the presence of wetlands, the location under migratory routes, and the occurrence of a WNF outbreak the previous year were identified as risk factors. The best statistical model according to the Akaike Information Criterion was used to map WNF risk areas in 2012 and 2013. Model validations showed a good level of prediction: area under Receiver Operator Characteristic curve = 0.854 (95% Confidence Interval 0.850-0.856) for internal validation and 0.819 (95% Confidence Interval 0.814-0.823) (2012) and 0.853 (95% Confidence Interval 0.850-0.855) (2013) for external validations, respectively.WNF incidence is increasing in Europe and WNV is expanding into new areas where it had never been observed before. Our model can be used to direct surveillance activities and public health interventions for the upcoming WNF season.
- Methods to measure potential spatial access to delivery care in low- and middle-income countries: a case study in rural Ghana. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jun 26; 13(1):25.
Access to skilled attendance at childbirth is crucial to reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Several different measures of geographic access are used concurrently in public health research, with the assumption that sophisticated methods are generally better. Most of the evidence for this assumption comes from methodological comparisons in high-income countries. We compare different measures of travel impedance in a case study in Ghana's Brong Ahafo region to determine if straight-line distance can be an adequate proxy for access to delivery care in certain low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings.We created a geospatial database, mapping population location in both compounds and village centroids, service locations for all health facilities offering delivery care, land-cover and a detailed road network. Six different measures were used to calculate travel impedance to health facilities (straight-line distance, network distance, network travel time and raster travel time, the latter two both mechanized and non-mechanized). The measures were compared using Spearman rank correlation coefficients, absolute differences, and the percentage of the same facilities identified as closest. We used logistic regression with robust standard errors to model the association of the different measures with health facility use for delivery in 9,306 births.Non-mechanized measures were highly correlated with each other, and identified the same facilities as closest for approximately 80% of villages. Measures calculated from compounds identified the same closest facility as measures from village centroids for over 85% of births. For 90% of births, the aggregation error from using village centroids instead of compound locations was less than 35 minutes and less than 1.12 km. All non-mechanized measures showed an inverse association with facility use of similar magnitude, an approximately 67% reduction in odds of facility delivery per standard deviation increase in each measure (OR = 0.33).Different data models and population locations produced comparable results in our case study, thus demonstrating that straight-line distance can be reasonably used as a proxy for potential spatial access in certain LMIC settings. The cost of obtaining individually geocoded population location and sophisticated measures of travel impedance should be weighed against the gain in accuracy.
- Modelling environmental factors correlated with podoconiosis. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jun 20; 13(1):24.
The precise trigger of podoconiosis [box drawings light horizontal] endemic non-filarial elephantiasis of the lower legs [box drawings light horizontal] is unknown. Epidemiological and ecological studies have linked the disease with barefoot exposure to red clay soils of volcanic origin. Histopathology investigations have demonstrated silicon, aluminium, magnesium and iron in the lower limb lymph node macrophages of both patients and non-patients living barefoot on these clays. We studied the spatial variation (variations across an area) in podoconiosis prevalence and the associated environmental factors with the goal of better understanding the pathogenesis of podoconiosis.Fieldwork was conducted from June 2011 to February 2013 in 12 kebeles (administrative units) in northern Ethiopia. Geo-located prevalence data and soil samples were collected and analysed along with secondary geological, topographic, meteorological and elevation data. Soil data were analysed for chemical composition, mineralogy and particle size; and interpolated to provide spatially continuous information. Exploratory, spatial, univariate and multivariate regression analyses of podoconiosis prevalence were conducted in relation to primary (soil) and secondary (elevation, precipitation, and geology) covariates.Podoconiosis distribution showed spatial correlation with variation in elevation and precipitation. Exploratory analysis identified that phyllosilicate minerals, particularly of the clay (smectite and kaolinite) and mica groups, quartz (crystalline silica), iron oxide, and zirconium were associated with podoconiosis prevalence. The final multivariate model showed that smectite (RR = 2.76, 95% CI: 1.35, 5.73; p = 0.007), quartz (RR = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.26; p = 0.001) and mica (RR = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.05, 1.13; p < 0.001) had positive associations with podoconiosis prevalence.Smectite, mica and quartz content of the soil was associated with podoconiosis prevalence. Together with previous work indicating that these minerals may influence water absorption, potentiate infection and be toxic to human cells, the present findings suggest that these particles may play a role in the pathogenesis of podoconiosis and acute adenolymphangitis, a common cause of morbidity in podoconiosis patients.
- Outdoor air pollution, subtypes and severity of ischemic stroke - a small-area level ecological study. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jun 17; 13(1):23.
Evidence linking outdoor air pollution and incidence of ischemic stroke subtypes and severity is limited. We examined associations between outdoor PM10 and NO2 concentrations modeled at a fine spatial resolution and etiological and clinical ischemic stroke subtypes and severity of ischemic stroke.We used a small-area level ecological study design and a stroke register set up to capture all incident cases of first ever stroke (1995-2007) occurring in a defined geographical area in South London (948 census output areas; population of 267839). Modeled PM10 and NO2 concentrations were available at a very fine spatial scale (20 meter by 20 meter grid point resolution) and were aggregated to output area level using postcode population weighted averages. Ischemic stroke was classified using the Oxford clinical classification, the Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment (TOAST) etiological classification, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score and a pragmatic clinical severity classification based on Glasgow coma score, ability to swallow, urinary continence and death <2 days of stroke onset.Mean (SD) concentrations were 25.1 (1.2) ug/m3 (range 23.3-36.4) for PM10 and 41.4 (3.0) ug/m3 (range 35.4-68.0) for NO2. There were 2492 incident cases of ischemic stroke. We found no evidence of association between these pollutants and the incidence of ischemic stroke subtypes classified using the Oxford and TOAST classifications. We found no significant association with stroke severity using NIHSS severity categories. However, we found that outdoor concentrations of both PM10 and NO2 appeared to be associated with increased incidence of mild but not severe ischemic stroke, classified using the pragmatic clinical severity classification. For mild ischemic stroke, the rate ratio in the highest PM10 category by tertile was 1.20 (1.05-1.38) relative to the lowest category. The rate ratio in the highest NO2 category was 1.22 (1.06-1.40) relative to the lowest category.We found no evidence of association between outdoor PM10 and NO2 concentrations and ischemic stroke subtypes but there was a suggestion that living in areas with elevated outdoor PM10 and NO2 concentrations might be associated with increased incidence of mild, but not severe, ischemic stroke.
- Can a deprivation index be used legitimately over both urban and rural areas? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jun 14; 13(1):22.
Although widely used, area-based deprivation indices remain sensitive to urban-rural differences as such indices are usually standardised around typical urban values. There is, therefore, a need to determine to what extent available deprivation indices can be used legitimately over both urban and rural areas.This study was carried out in Brittany, France, a relatively affluent region that contains deep rural areas. Among the 1,736 residential census block groups (IRIS) composing the Brittany region, 1,005 (57.9%) are rural. Four deprivation indices were calculated: two scores (Carstairs and Townsend) developed in the UK and two more recent French measures (Havard and Rey). Two standardisation levels were considered: all of the IRIS and only the urban IRIS of the region. Internal validity (Kappa coefficients and entropy values) and external validity (relationship with colorectal cancer screening [CCS] attendance) were investigated.Regardless of the deprivation measure used, wealthy areas are mostly clustered in the West and at the outskirts of major towns. Carstairs and Rey scores stand out by all evaluation criteria, capturing both urban and rural deprivation. High levels of agreements were found across standardisation levels (kappa = 0.96). The distributions of deprivation scores were balanced across urban and rural areas, and high Shannon entropy values were observed in the capital city (>=0.93). Similar and significant negative trends were observed between CCS attendance and both deprivation indices, independent of the degree of urbanisation.These results provide support, despite potential sociological objections, for the use of a compromise index that would facilitate comparisons and interpretations across urban and rural locations in public health research.
- Natural-focal diseases: mapping experience in Russia. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jun 14; 13(1):21.
Natural-focal diseases constitute a serious hazard for human health. Agents and vectors of such diseases belong to natural landscapes. The aim of this study is to identify the diversity and geography of natural-focal diseases in Russia and to develop cartographic approaches for their mapping, including mathematical-cartographical modeling. Russian medico-geographical mapping of natural-focal diseases is highly developed regionally and locally but extremely limited at the national level. To solve this problem, a scientific team of the Faculty of Geography at Lomonosov Moscow State University has developed and implemented a project of a medico-geographical Atlas of Russia "Natural-Focal Diseases".The mapping is based on medical statistics data. The Atlas contains a series of maps on disease incidence, long-term dynamics of disease morbidity, etc. In addition, other materials available to the authors were used: mapping of the natural environment, field data, archival materials, analyzed satellite images, etc. The maps are processed using ArcGIS (ESRI) software application. Different methods of rendering of mapped phenomena are used (geographical ranges, diagrams, choropleth maps etc.).+A series of analytical, integrated, and synthetic maps shows disease incidence in the population at both the national and regional levels for the last 15 years. Maps of the mean annual morbidity of certain infections and maps of morbidity dynamics and nosological profiles allow for a detailed analysis of the situation for each of 83 administrative units of the Russian Federation. The degree of epidemic hazard in Russia by natural-focal diseases is reflected in a synthetic medico-geographical map that shows the degree of epidemic risks due to such diseases in Russia and allows one to estimate the risk of disease manifestation in a given region.This is the first attempt at aggregation and public presentation of diverse and multifaceted information about natural-focal diseases in Russia. Taken in entirety, the maps that have been prepared for the Atlas will enable researchers to evaluate the stability of epidemic manifestation of individual diseases and the susceptibility of a given territory to disease transmission. The results can be used for sanitary monitoring and disease prevention.
- Maximum linkage space-time permutation scan statistics for disease outbreak detection. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014 Jun 10; 13(1):20.
In disease surveillance, the prospective space-time permutation scan statistic is commonly used for the early detection of disease outbreaks. The scanning window that defines potential clusters of diseases is cylindrical in shape, which does not allow incorporating into the cluster shape potential factors that can contribute to the spread of the disease, such as information about roads, landscape, among others. Furthermore, the cylinder scanning window assumes that the spatial extent of the cluster does not change in time. Alternatively, a dynamic space-time cluster may indicate the potential spread of the disease through time. For instance, the cluster may decrease over time indicating that the spread of the disease is vanishing.This paper proposes two irregularly shaped space-time permutation scan statistics. The cluster geometry is dynamically created using a graph structure. The graph can be created to include nearest-neighbor structures, geographical adjacency information or any relevant prior information regarding the contagious behavior of the event under surveillance.The new methods are illustrated using influenza cases in three New England states, and compared with the cylindrical version. A simulation study is provided to investigate some properties of the proposed arbitrary cluster detection techniques.We have successfully developed two new space-time permutation scan statistics methods with irregular shapes and improved computational performance. The results demonstrate the potential of these methods to quickly detect disease outbreaks with irregular geometries. Future work aims at performing intensive simulation studies to evaluate the proposed methods using different scenarios, number of cases, and graph structures.
- Assessing the environmental characteristics of cycling routes to school: a study on the reliability and validity of a Google Street View-based audit. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Int J Health Geogr 2014.:19.
Google Street View provides a valuable and efficient alternative to observe the physical environment compared to on-site fieldwork. However, studies on the use, reliability and validity of Google Street View in a cycling-to-school context are lacking. We aimed to study the intra-, inter-rater reliability and criterion validity of EGA-Cycling (Environmental Google Street View Based Audit - Cycling to school), a newly developed audit using Google Street View to assess the physical environment along cycling routes to school.Parents (n = 52) of 11-to-12-year old Flemish children, who mostly cycled to school, completed a questionnaire and identified their child's cycling route to school on a street map. Fifty cycling routes of 11-to-12-year olds were identified and physical environmental characteristics along the identified routes were rated with EGA-Cycling (5 subscales; 37 items), based on Google Street View. To assess reliability, two researchers performed the audit. Criterion validity of the audit was examined by comparing the ratings based on Google Street View with ratings through on-site assessments.Intra-rater reliability was high (kappa range 0.47-1.00). Large variations in the inter-rater reliability (kappa range -0.03-1.00) and criterion validity scores (kappa range -0.06-1.00) were reported, with acceptable inter-rater reliability values for 43% of all items and acceptable criterion validity for 54% of all items.EGA-Cycling can be used to assess physical environmental characteristics along cycling routes to school. However, to assess the micro-environment specifically related to cycling, on-site assessments have to be added.