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Department of Social Medicine

Home 2011 Geography Lecture: Dr. Mei-Po Kwan on Health Research

Geography Lecture: Dr. Mei-Po Kwan on Health Research

Dept of Geography's Eyre Lecture 2010: Dr. Mei-Po Kwan, "Geographic Context in Health Research: A New Conceptualization."

  • Lecture
Where Toy Lounge, Dey Hall (4th floor), UNC
Contact Name Geography Colloquium Committee
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Dr. Kwan has been a leader in developing approaches to Geographic Information Science that incorporate qualitative
methodologies and explore the experience of gender, race, and religion in everyday life.

Dr. Kwan will be speaking on, "Geographic Context in Health Research: A New Conceptualization." The talk will be held on Friday, October 1st, in the Toy Lounge of Dey Hall, at 3:30. Please join us at 3:15 for coffee and cookies before the talk.

Research in medical and health geography has accounted for health outcomes largely in terms of two groups of factors to date: (a) characteristics of individuals and their families, and (b) characteristics of the sociogeographic context and pertinent environmental factors (e.g., neighborhood). In conducting such work, scholars have focused on the neighborhood of residence as the most relevant context affecting health outcomes. The typical analytic approach examines residential neighborhood characteristics such as the availability of health facilities, assuming that neighborhood effects operate through connections that exist among the population, environmental conditions or health facilities found in the same or adjacent enumeration areas (e.g., census tracks). This approach has major limitations for producing a thorough understanding of how the dynamic context of everyday life operates to shape health behavior and outcomes. It assumes that neighborhood geographic contexts are equivalent to the significant geographic contexts affecting people without assessing where individuals actually spend time while engaged in daily activities. This presentation argues that this static notion of neighborhood or context is inadequate. It proposes a new concept of geographic context that goes beyond the conventional notion of local context as comprised of static neighborhood conditions to encompass dynamic patterns of movement of local residents and non-residents across time and space that affect individual behaviors in significant ways. It also explores geocomputational methods for implementing such a dynamic notion of geographic context in a GIS environment.

Learn more about Dr. Kwan's research at:

Refreshments at 3:15pm.

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