Public health researchers are increasingly shifting their focus from models of disease epidemiology that focus exclusively on individual risk factors to models that also consider the complex and important effects of the socio-physical environment (Geanuracos et al. 2007). The application of spatial analysis in the context of epidemiological surveillance and research has increased exponentially (Pfeiffer et al. 2009). Geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS) and remote sensing (RS) have been increasingly used in public health research since the 1990s (Kaiser et al. 2003). At the same time, geographers have started to extend their collaborations with public health researchers leading to the still young discipline of health geography that uses geographical concepts and techniques to investigate health-related topics (Meade and Earickson 2005; Gatrell and Elliott 2009).
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