PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2013, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (9): 1344-1351.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2013.09.004

• Special Column: Space-time Behavior and Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Temporally integrated human mobility and health research

KWAN Mei-Po1, GUO Wenbo2, CHAI Yanwei2   

  1. 1. Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801-3637, USA;
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2013-07-01 Revised:2013-08-01 Online:2013-09-25 Published:2013-09-25

Abstract: With the development of GIScience, geography's focus on important social issues intersects with other cognate disciplines, which in return enhances the vitality of geography itself. It is important to consider the temporal dimension and human mobility in geographic research, since time is closely linked to space, the very basic dimension of geographic studies. Health is one of the most important issues in people's daily life, which is closely bound up with space-time behavior. The perspective of activity-mobility system will contribute to the breakthrough of health-related research. Drawing upon recent research on human mobility, this paper reviews research and methods of accessibility, travel experience and well-being, and health and disease. GIS broke the constraints of geometry methods of accessibility research, and scholars developed various methods and aspects of accessibility research, of which the nearest research has taken accessibility to health and healthcare into account. Furthermore, the temporal dimension enriches the connotation of accessibility, considering time as well as space, and pays more attention to the old, the disabled, the low-income, children and women. Well-being and travel experience are one of the hottest topics of human mobility research. Traditional questionnaire survey can help capture travel experience and well-being from both objective and subjective side. Geo-narrative offered a method to get better understanding and visual presentation of travel experience from more detailed, empathizing and reasonable view. Health has been a deep-seated issue, and few researchers have probed into the relationship between health and human mobility. Health-related contextual variables are introduced into health-related mobility research, which presents the environmental elements such as air pollution, water pollution, etc. Coupled with high time-space accurate GPS methods, sampling method for health data collection makes it possible to give in-depth analysis of health-related mobility. The paper, in particular, explores individual accessibility to healthcare in low-income neighborhood in central Ohio from a spatial-temporal view using GIS, and it is found that the employed are facing poorer accessibility to healthcare than the unemployed. Another example is the factors influencing smokeless tobacco use in rural Ohio Appalachia through interview with 23 adolescent smokeless tobacco users and 38 adult smokeless tobacco male users, and it is found that culture, social network and easy accessibility to tobacco enhances the use of smokeless tobacco. The two cases show multiple methods of GIS, quantitative and qualitative, applied on health-related researches. Finally, prospects of temporally integrated research on human mobility and healthcare are discussed. The combination of theory and methods of different disciplines is essential to make the breakthrough in geographies of health and healthcare.

Key words: health, human mobility, time