Spatial Epidemiology (HGEO102)

Course content

Spatial epidemiology, the study of the spatial distribution of diseases and their determinants, is re-emerging as an important component of population and public health. The increasing availability of geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial data are contributing to this re-emergence, as are such techniques as multi-level modeling, which provide new opportunities to integrate individual and population level health determinants. 

This course has three key objectives:

  • To become familiar with health and covariate datasets in BC
  • To use GIS to conduct basic exposure assessments
  • To interpret and evaluate spatial epidemiological results

The training will cover the following:

  • Introduction to spatial epidemiology
  • Spatial health and covariate data in BC
  • Grouped data and ecological study design
  • Postal codes: the basis of spatial exposure assessment
  • Spatial exposure assessment: principles and limitations
  • Bias, confounding and exposure misclassification
  • Advanced techniques in spatial epidemiology

Course format

This course has been redesigned from its original inception as a face-to-face workshop to broaden knowledge mobilization in this subject area. Course delivery includes voiceover Power Point information with associated reference guides, web links  and online tutorials using sample datasets accessed through Population Data BC's Remote Training Lab (RTL).

Training time

The self paced course is divided into 7 modules, followed by 4 data analysis tutorials. Each module can be reviewed in approximately 20 to 30 minutes with a total training time of approximately 3 hours. The 4 tutorials, that use the Remote Training Lab, can be completed within 1 ½ to 3 hours – depending on individual skill level.

You may wish to complete the modules all together or as separate training sessions over a period of several days or weeks to best fit your schedule or learning preferences.

Access fee

Access to this guide is free. Go to: and, if you do not already have a my.popdata account you will need to sign up and create one.

Once you have a my.popdata account, go to the Education & Training section of the my.popdata site at You can then login in with your PopData account username and passphrase and self-enroll to access the guide/course.

Course presenter

Perry Hystad has a PhD from the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. His research interests include environmental epidemiology, spatial exposure assessment, air pollution, interactions between social and environmental health determinants.

Preview the course below: