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Administrative datasets often lack information about individual characteristics such as Aboriginal identity and income. However, these datasets frequently contain individual-level geographic information (such as postal codes). This paper explains the methodology for creating Geozones, which are area-based thresholds of population characteristics derived from census data, which can be used in the analysis of social or economic differences in health and health service utilization.
Data and methods
With aggregate 2006 Census information at the Dissemination Area level, population concentration and exposure for characteristics of interest are analysed using threshold tables and concentration curves. Examples are presented for the Aboriginal population and for income gradients.
The patterns of concentration of First Nations people, Métis, and Inuit differ from those of non-Aboriginal people and between urban and rural areas. The spatial patterns of concentration and exposure by income gradients also differ.
The Geozones method is a relatively easy way of identifying areas with lower and higher concentrations of subgroups. Because it is ecological-based, Geozones has the inherent strengths and weaknesses of this approach.
Aboriginal people, administrative data, concentration curves, ecological studies, geography, income quintiles, threshold tables
Administrative datasets that contain information about health service use and events such as births and deaths are powerful tools in population health research. However, such datasets often lack information about health determinants (for example, income and education) and individual characteristics (for example, Aboriginal identity or country of birth), which can be important to understanding health disparities among and between certain groups. This article describes the Geozones methodology for calculating area-based thresholds of population characteristics derived from census results that can be applied to administrative data for use in the analysis of inequalities in health outcomes, health service use, or social characteristics. [Full Text]
Paul A. Peters (1-613-951-0616; email@example.com) and Lisa Oliver (1-613-951-4708; firstname.lastname@example.org) are with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6. Gisèle M. Carrière (1-604-666-5907 ; email@example.com) is with the Health Analysis Division, Vancouver Regional Office, Statistics Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B 6C7.
What is already known on this subject?
- Administrative datasets are powerful tools in population health research.
- Such datasets often lack information about health determinants such as income and education, and individual characteristics such as Aboriginal identity.
- The Geozones methodology for calculating area-based thresholds of population characteristics derived from census data can be applied to administrative files to analyze health outcomes and health service use.
What does this study add?
- This study presents a detailed and replicable methodology for the Geozones approach that combines that used for Aboriginal areas and for income gradients with the threshold table methodology widely used in geography literature.
- The methods can be applied to the analysis of health administrative data where sufficient concentrations of population subgroups exist.
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