Geographic information systems and travel health

Bauer, Irmgard L., and Puotinen, Marji (2002) Geographic information systems and travel health. Journal of Travel Medicine, 9 (6). pp. 308-314.

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Questions dealing with space and/or location have always been integral to understanding and addressing health issues, such as charting the spread of a disease. Health researchers have traditionally used paper maps to explore the spatial dimensions of health. However, due to advances in technology, it is now possible to ask such questions using a suite of computer-based methods and tools that are collectively known as a Geographic Information System (GIS).

A GIS links the location of features, such as reported cases, to information decribing those features in a digital spaial database by looking at address, age, gender of patients. This database can be analyzed in a number of ways to explore spatial rlationships and patterns. Because the spatial database is dynamic, using GIS is faster and more powerful than using static paper maps and has great potential as a tool for travel health research and practice.

Travel is intrinsically linked to geography. Thus, the use of GIS to support travel health practice and research seems only logical. This paper demonstrates the utility of GIS for addressing travel health related issues and provides practical suggestions for its use in travel health advice. GIS also provides an essential tool for examining the much neglected field of tourism’s impact on the health of local communities, such as assessing health risks/benefits to host countries posed by tourists’ travel corridors.

To fully exploit the potential benefits of GIS for travel health, however, several key issues must be addressed. This paper will also present suggestions for doing so.

Item ID: 406
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1708-8305
Keywords: Geographic Information Systems, travel health, travel medicine, health education, tourism impact
Additional Information:

Copyright 2002 Blackwell Publishing. : The definitive version is available at

Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2006
FoR Codes: 08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0806 Information Systems > 080606 Global Information Systems @ 100%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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