Evaluating the Use of Alternative Distance Metrics in Spatial Regression Analysis of Health Data: A Spatio-temporal Comparison

  • Stefania Bertazzon
  • Scott Olson
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5730)


A method is discussed to enhance the reliability of multivariate spatial regression analysis: alternative values of the Minkowski distance metric are used in the spatial weight matrix. The method is tested on an analysis of the association between heart disease incidence and a pool of socio-economic variables in Calgary over two consecutive census surveys. The method provides a reliable model, which can guide locational decisions to mitigate present and future disease incidence. The model is underpinned by a quantitative definition of neighbourhood connectivity throughout the city. Such connectivity, usually described by Euclidean distance, can be more effectively described by a specifically calibrated distance metric. The analytical results are meaningful, robust to neighbourhood size, and relatively constant over time. Owing to its effectiveness and simplicity, the procedure is generalizable to other health and socio-economic analysis. An automatic implementation is suggested, to assist in the definition of reliable spatial regression models.


Spatial regression distance metric Minkowski neighbourhood connectivity reliability health socio-economic GIS 


  1. 1.
    Cliff, D., Ord, J.K.: Spatial Processes. Models and Applications. Pion, London (1981)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Griffith, D.A., Amrhein, C.G.: Statistical Analysis for Geographers. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs (1991)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anselin, L.: Spatial Econometrics: Methods and Models. Kluwer Academic Publisher, New York (1988)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kaplan, G.A., Keil, J.E.: Socioeconomic factors and cardiovascular disease: a review of the literature. Circulation 88(4), 1973–1998 (1993)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ghali, W.A., Knudtson, M.L.: Overview of the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcome Assessment in Coronary Heart Disease. Canadian Journal of Cardiology 16(10), 1225–1230 (2000)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Getis, A.: A history of the concept of spatial autocorrelation: A geographer’s perspective. Geographical Analysis 40(3), 297–309 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Getis, A., Aldstadt, J.: Constructing the Spatial Weights Matrix Using a Local Statistic. Geographical Analysis 36, 90–104 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bertazzon, S.: A definition of contiguity for spatial regression analysis in GISc: Conceptual and computational aspects of spatial dependence. Rivista Geografica Italiana 2(CX), 247–280 (2003)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Anselin, L.: Under the hood. Issues in the specification and interpretation of spatial regression models. Agricultural Economics 27(3), 247–267 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cressie, N.: Statistics for Spatial Data. Wiley, New York (1993)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fotheringham, A.S., Brundson, C., Charlton, M.: Geographically Weighted Regression: The Analysis of Spatially Varying Relationships. Wiley, Chichester (2002)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ward, M.D.: Spatial regression models. Sage, Los Angeles (2008)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Openshaw, S., Alvanides, S.: Applying geocomputation to the analysis of spatial distributions. In: Longley, P.A., Goodchild, M.F., Maguire, D.J., Rhind, D.W., et al. (eds.) Geographical Information Systems: Principles and Technical issues, vol. 1, pp. 267–282 (1999) Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Besag, J., Green, P.: Spatial statistics and Bayesian computation. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B 55, 25–37 (1993)zbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Duncan, C., Jones, K.: Using multilevel models to model heterogeneity: Potential and pitfalls. Geographical Analysis 32, 279–305 (2000)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bailey, T., Gatrell, A.: Interactive Spatial Data Analysis. Wiley, New York (1995)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Haggett, P., Cliff, A.D., Frey, A.: Locational Analysis in Human Geography. Edward Arnold, London (1977)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Krause, E.F.: Taxicab geometry. Addison-Wesley, Menlo Park (1975)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Apparicio, P., Abdelmajid, M., Riva, M., Shearmur, R.: Comparing alternative approaches to measuring the geographical accessibility of urban health services: Distance types and aggregation-error issues. International Journal of Health Geographics 7, 7 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Laurini, R., Thompson, D.: Fundamentals of Spatial Information System. The A.P.I.C. Series, vol. 37. Academic Press, London (1992)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Phibbs, C.S., Luft, H.S.: Correlation of travel time on roads versus straight line distance. Medical Care Research and Review 52(4), 532–542 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kohli, S., Sahlen, K., Sivertun, A., et al.: Distance from the primary health center: A GIS method to study geographical access to health care. Journal of Medical Systems 19(6), 425–436 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Shahid, R.: GWR in Health: An Application to Cardiac Catheterization in Calgary. In: Proceedings ESRI Health GIS Conference 2007 (2007)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bertazzon, S.: Cardiovascular disease and socio-economic risk factors: an empirical spatial analysis of Calgary (Canada). Rivista Geografica Italiana 116(3) (forthcoming, 2009)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bertazzon, S., Olson, S., Knudtson, M.: A spatial analysis of the demographic and socio-economic variables associated with cardiovascular disease in Calgary (Canada). Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy (2009), doi:10.1007/s12061-009-9027-7Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Statistics Canada: Report on the Demographic Situation in Canada (2008)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Anselin, L.: SpaceStat tutorial. Regional Research Institute. West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia (1993)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Alberta Health and Wellness, (accessed, 13/05/2009)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefania Bertazzon
    • 1
  • Scott Olson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations