Spatial Perspectives in Population Health - Two-day workshop

Friday, July 3, 2015
Event type: 
TWO DAY WORKSHOP 9:00am to 4:00pm each day

School of Population and Public Health, Room B104, University of British Columbia, Vancouver


Geography is an essential, though underutilized, framework for population health research and practice. This two day workshop explores spatial perspectives in population health and uses hands on case‐studies to introduce different types of spatial data and geographic information system (GIS) methods.  Participants of the workshop will learn how to critically interpret and assess spatial analyses and how to conceptualize and apply GIS methods to different aspects of population health.

Specific case‐studies will be conducted in ArcGIS and will introduce geo‐coding of health data, mapping, calculating travel times and service areas, exposure assessment, time‐series maps and cluster identification, and methods for assessing built and social neighbourhood characteristics.


Dr. Perry Hystad is an Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University and serves on several committees and expert advisory groups related to spatial exposure assessment and epidemiology. His research interests include environmental epidemiology, spatial exposure assessment, air pollution, interactions between social and environmental health determinants, and global health and climate change. Dr. Hystad has a wide range of experience facilitating professional development workshops and online courses in Epidemiology, GIS and Spatial Epidemiology for Population Data BC, University of Victoria’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, CAREX Canada and the University of British Columbia.

Alejandro Cervantes-Larios is a PhD candidate and sessional instructor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia where he teaches Spatial Analysis and Geographic Information Science. For his PhD dissertation, Alejandro examines the relationship between voting patterns at various spatial scales and contextual and compositional variables. He has extensive experience in GIS, remote sensing and spatial analysis for modeling exposure to environmental carcinogens in outdoor air.

Learning objectives

In this intermediate level workshop participants will:

  • Identify the importance of spatial perspectives in population health and the uses of GIS in population health.
  • Explore various spatial datasets and GIS methods using several population health case-studies
  • Critically interpret GIS approaches and methods in population health.

Who should attend this workshop?


The hands on case‐studies will be taught at an intermediate level.

Prior knowledge or experience in the field of Population Health is required. Basic knowledge and experience using GIS software (e.g. ArcGIS) is beneficial but not required. Individuals with no ArcGIS experience are welcome to take the workshop but may find it difficult to complete all case-studies; nevertheless, they will obtain a good introduction to GIS capabilities. More advanced GIS users will benefit from the workshop theory and exposure to new spatial data sources and GIS applications to population health

Workshop outline

Day one

Morning session

  • Spatial perspectives in population health: Motivation and examples
  • Case study 1: An introduction to ArcGIS: Exploring spatial data sources
  • Spatial data sources and geo-coding
  • Case study 2: Geo-coding methods for health data

Afternoon session

  • Mapping in population health
  • Case study 3: Mapping results from the Canadian Community Health Survey
  • Spatial exposure assessment methods
  • Case study 4: Spatial exposure assessment of environmental hazards

Day Two

Morning session

  • Estimating access using GIS
  • Case study 5: Calculating travel times and hospital service areas in BC
  • Community health
  • Case Study 6: Methods for assessing the built and social neighbourhood environments

Afternoon session

  • Surveillance and cluster detection
  • Case study 7: Identifying spatial patterns and disease clusters
  • Future advances in spatial data and technology and their implications for population health

Workshop format

The workshop will consist of short lecture presentations, group discussions and work in pairs conducting hands-on data analysis of specific case studies.

Limited to 30 participants. Register early to avoid disappointment.


Regular fee: $355
Student Fee: $250

(Fee includes bound copy of course notes, refreshment break and use of PopData laptops with course training datasets and ArcGIS loaded).

Note: Please indicate if you are registering with a partner as course laptops will be shared depending on number of attendees.

To reserve your seat, email Ann Greenwood at

Page last revised: May 20, 2015