Resources - Geographic
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

What are Geographic Information Systems (GIS)?
GIS are information systems
 (integrating hardware, software, data and procedures) applied to geographic or spatial data. They designed to support the data capture, storage, management, updating, manipulation, analysis, and display of spatial data in the form of map.

What is geocoding, and how do I geocode my data?
Geocoding involves
 the assignment of a geographic location code to a piece of data so that it can be placed onto a map or located relative to other geographic information (i.e. what zip code is a patient's house located in?) For example, through geocoding, a latitude and longitude might be assigned to a patient address, or appended to a specific zip code, census track, county or state.

Harvard School of Public Health Introduction to Geocoding

How can I use geocoding in my research?

GIS can be a valuable tool for primary care researchers in studying a variety of healthcare issues such as:

  • understanding disease patterns
  • defining healthcare access in different communities
  • examining the effect of distance on access
  • defining primary care service areas
  • framing health policy analyses according to political and policy boundaries (congressional districts, health professional shortage areas, etc)

What resources are available to help me use GIS in my research?
Primary care investigators are increasingly interested in the use of GIS methods. Various resources exist to help interested investigators master the use of GIS and spatial analytic methods.

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