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Geographical epidemiology, spatial analysis and geographical information systems: a multidisciplinary glossary
  1. Mohsen Rezaeian1,
  2. Graham Dunn1,
  3. Selwyn St Leger2,
  4. Louis Appleby3
  1. 1Biostatistics Group, Division of Epidemiology & Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Evidence Based Population Health Unit, Division of Epidemiology & Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  3. 3Division of Psychiatry, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Rezaeian
 Social Medicine Department, Rafsanjan Medical School, Rafsanjan 7719617996, Iran; moeygmr2{at}


We provide a relatively non-technical glossary of terms and a description of the tools used in spatial or geographical epidemiology and associated geographical information systems. Statistical topics included cover adjustment and standardisation to allow for demographic and other background differences, data structures, data smoothing, spatial autocorrelation and spatial regression. We also discuss the rationale for geographical epidemiology and specific techniques such as disease clustering, disease mapping, ecological analyses, geographical information systems and global positioning systems.

  • GIS, geographical information system
  • GPS, global positioning system
  • SMR, standardised mortality ratio

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

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