GIS Health Studies: Conduct Spatial Exposure Assessments

Interested in how to conduct different types of spatial exposure assessments for air pollution or other exposures to a population? 

PHDA04: Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection is a great place to start.

Exposure assessment is the study of human contact with some agent in the environment, be it chemical, physical, biological or social substance or process. Exposure assessment examines the mechanisms and dynamics of these events and how they may relate to health outcomes in a target population. UVIC

Spatial exposure assessment is one of nine weekly learning modules in which students learn the intricacies of spatial exposure assessment methods used in epidemiology, identify when they can and cannot be used, validation and evaluation techniques including misclassification and confounding error.

Hands-on exercises will teach students how to utilize different methods for assigning exposure to case-control postal codes using Nearest Monitor, Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) and Kriging interpolation, as well as how to derive land use predictor variables and examine how these are used in Land Use Regression models.

Throughout the course, PHDA-04  students will:

  • Explore the particularities of working with geographic data
  • Gain valuable skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for population health research
  • Learn analytic techniques for disease mapping, assessing population exposure to environmental pollutants, and measuring population access to health care services
  • Practice hands-on skills using  ‘real-world’ data via our remotely- accessed Secure Research Training Lab

This fully online, non-credit course is offered as a partnership between Population Data BC, the University of Victoria, Division of Continuing Studies and the Department of Geography.

PHDA04: Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection will be offered in September 2016. For more information, please visit To learn more about what our students are saying about their program experience visit the Population Data BC website.

About our Author: Anders Erickson

Anders Erickson recently obtained his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies with the Division of Medical Sciences & Department of Geography at the University of Victoria. His research interests are varied, but predominantly focus on the spatial and environmental epidemiology of reproductive health, the social determinants of health and gene-environment interactions. His PhD project used small area spatial and multilevel analyses to model the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and gestational diabetes relating to air pollution exposure and its possible interaction with social factors. Anders has consulted on several other research projects and government contracts regarding biostatistics, epidemiology and GIS mapping. He will be teaching PHDA 04 Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection in September 2016.

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