Geostatistical software for the boundary analysis of cancer maps
R43 Phase I (End date: 12/31/2009)
The overall objective of this project is to develop the first GIS-based software to offer tools that are specifically designed for the boundary analysis of aggregated health data, providing: geostatistical modeling of the uncertainty attached to the spatial distribution of rates and its propagation through the computation of boundary statistics, interpolation of health outcomes and putative factors to the same spatial support to facilitate boundary overlap analysis, detection of significant boundaries accounting for the spatial pattern of rates and multiple testing correction, and visualization of changes in the location of these boundaries through time. This product will allow the detailed investigation of zones of abrupt changes in disease rates, and the exploration of relationships between health outcomes and potential factors, such as environmental exposures, socioeconomic conditions, and cancer control methods, leading to:
- A better understanding of the mechanisms/pathways/causes by which regions influence health outcomes, and
- Long-term quantification of the benefits of current strategies and policies for reducing the observed geographic disparities in cancer incidence, mortality and survival. Instructional materials will be developed to promote the use of this relatively new methodology among health scientists.
Phase I of the project will:
- Develop and validate through simulation studies geostatistical techniques for modeling spatial uncertainty and statistical tests that account for spatial patterns and multiple testing in the detection of significant geographic boundaries in cancer rates and putative factors.
- Conduct a requirements analysis to identify the optimal spatial methods and functionality to incorporate into the software: TerraSeer’s SpaceStat™ software
- Develop and test a software prototype to detect, visualize and interpret significant boundaries in cancer maps.
The substantial benefit of this research is its utility in documenting, analyzing and interpreting geographic variation in cancer incidence, mortality and survival, and relating these cancer boundaries to boundaries in potential environmental exposures and access to health care. The methods developed in this project will help gain a better understanding of the mechanisms/pathways/causes by which regions influence health outcomes, and lead to a long-term quantification of the benefits of current strategies and policies for reducing the observed geographic disparities in cancer incidence, mortality and survival.