World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Health geography

Article Id: WHEBN0002596739
Reproduction Date:

Title: Health geography  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Human geography, Geography, Economic geography, Kirsty Duncan, Religion and geography
Collection: Branches of Geography, Global Health, Health, Health Care, Human Geography
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Health geography

Hepatitis A prevalence worldwide, 2005.

Health geography is the application of geographical information, perspectives, and methods to the study of health, disease, and health care.


  • Overview 1
  • History of health geography 2
  • Areas of study 3
    • Geographies of disease and ill health 3.1
    • Geography of health care provision 3.2
  • Health geographers 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The study of health geography has been influenced by (re)positioning of medical geography within the field of social geography due a shift from a medical model to a social model in healthcare, which advocates for the redefinition of health and health care away from prevention and treatment of illness only to one of promoting well-being in general. Under this model, some previous illnesses (e.g., mental ill health) are recognized as behavior disturbances only, and other types of medicine (e.g., complementary or alternative medicine and traditional medicine) are studied by the medicine researchers, sometimes with the aid of health geographers without medical education. This shift changes the definition of care, no longer limiting it to spaces such as hospitals or doctor's offices. Also, the social model gives primacy to the intimate encounters performed at non-traditional spaces of medicine and healthcare as well as to the individuals as health consumers.[1]

This alternative methodological approach means that medical geography is broadened to incorporate philosophies such as Marxian political economy, structuralism, social interactionism, humanism, feminism and queer theory.[2]

History of health geography

The relationship between space and health dates back to Hippocrates, who stated that "airs, waters, places" all played significant roles impacting human health and history.[2] A classic piece of research in health geography was done in 1854 as a cholera outbreak gripped a neighborhood in London. Death tolls rang around the clock and the people feared that they were being infected by vapors coming from the ground. John Snow thought that if he could locate the source of the disease, it could be contained. He drew maps showing the homes of people who had died of cholera and the locations of water pumps. He found that one pump, the public pump on Broad Street, was central to most of the victims. He figured that infected water from the pump was the culprit. He instructed the authorities to remove the handle to the pump, making it unusable. After that the number of new cholera cases decreased.

Areas of study

Health geography is considered to be divided into two distinct elements. The first of which is focused on geographies of disease and ill health, involving descriptive research quantifying disease frequencies and distributions, and analytic research concerned with finding what characteristics make an individual or population susceptible to disease. This requires an understanding of epidemiology.[3] The second stream of health geography is the geography of health care, primarily facility location, accessibility and utilization. This requires the use of spatial analysis and often borrows from Behavioral economics.[4]

Geographies of disease and ill health

Health geographers are concerned with the prevalence of different diseases along a range of scales from the local to global, and inspects the natural world, in all of its complexity, for correlations between diseases and locations. This situates health geography alongside other geographical sub-disciplines that trace human-environment relations. Health geographers use modern spatial analysis tools to map the diffusion of various diseases, as individuals spread them amongst themselves, and across wider spaces as they migrate.[2] Health geographers also consider all types of spaces as presenting health risks, from natural disasters, to interpersonal violence, stress and other potential dangers.[1]

Geography of health care provision

Although health care is a public good, it is not equally available to all individuals. Demand for public services is continuously increasing. People need advance knowledge and fastest prediction technology, that Health Geography offers. The latest example is Telemedicine

Health geographers

Notable health geographers include:

  • John Snow
  • William C. Gorgas
  • Jonathan Mayer[5]
  • Melinda Meade
  • Ellen Cromley
  • Anthony C. Gatrell
  • Jim Dunn
  • Robin Kearns[6]
  • Sara McLafferty
  • Graham Moon[7]
  • Gerard Rushton
  • Nancy Ross[8]
  • W.F. (Ric) Skinner[9]

See also, North American Health Geographers Profiles and International Health Geographers Profiles on the Association of American Geographers, Health & Medical Geography Specialty Group web site ( and

See also


  1. ^ a b Philo, Chris (2009). "Health and Health Care". In Gregory, Derek; Johnston, Ron; Pratt, Geraldine et. al The Dictionary of Human Geography (Fifth Edition). Oxford:Blackwell. pp.325-326
  2. ^ a b c Philo, Chris (2009). "Medical Geography". In Gregory, Derek; Johnston, Ron; Pratt, Geraldine et. al The Dictionary of Human Geography (Fifth Edition). Oxford:Blackwell. pp.451-453
  3. ^ Ocaña-Riola, Ricardo (2010). "Common errors in disease mapping". Geospatial Health 4 (2): 139–54.  
  4. ^ Litva, Andréa (1995). "Coming out: exposing social theory in medical geography". Health 1 (1): 5–14.  
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Robin Kearns
  7. ^ Graham Moon
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ W.F. (Ric) Skinner

External links

  • (free online e-learning module)Health Geomatics
  • Social and Spatial Inequalities
  • GeoHealth Laboratory
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.