Individual and population health and wellness are strongly influenced by geography. Distance to services, neighbourhood safety, opportunities for education and employment within commuting distance, and air and water quality all affect health. Geographic mapping of health outcomes and services is a powerful tool for decision-making in health policy and planning. The availability of the population health information in a user-friendly format can help health care stakeholders to understand, plan for and respond to local health care challenges.
About the project
The current version of the Maritime Health Atlas is an interactive, web-based mapping tool that illustrates difference in measures of health status, health service use, and the social determinants of health at several geographic scales in the province of Nova Scotia.
The Atlas includes aggregate census data from Nova Scotia as well as the results from the Small-Area Rate Variation (SARV) project. A key component of this project was the development of 55 community clusters, which are nested within two levels of geographies: 14 community health networks and four management zones.
The Atlas has since expanded to include additional data from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The goal is to eventually include data from all three Maritime Provinces.
The Atlas aims to facilitate the exchange of geographically-referenced population health and health care knowledge to directly benefit policy, health system improvement and the health of Maritimers.
The Renewal Process
The current version of the Atlas is undergoing a renewal to improve its features and functionality.
Dark Horse Analytics, an IT firm with experience building complex data visualization and mapping tools, was contracted to lead the initial stakeholder consultations. These consultations are helping to ensure that design of the Atlas meets the needs of the health community and a broad range of potential users. Representatives from several universities, non-governmental organizations, health authorities and others were consulted between July 22 and July 29, 2019. These initial consultations identified a need to consult with the NS Community Health Boards (CHBs), which led to a further meeting on November 29, 2019.
GeoHealth Research Unit (GRU)
- Dr. Mikiko Terashima, School of Planning, Dalhousie University
- Dr. George Kephart, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University
- Dr. Daniel Rainham, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Dalhousie University
- Dr. Nathalie Saint-Jacques, Nova Scotia Cancer Care Program, Nova Scotia Health