Geography 580/HSERV 586 2011

Medical Geography

Wednesdays 2:30-5:20, Health Sciences E-214


Professor: Jonathan D. Mayer, Professor,

Departments of Epidemiology, Geography, and Global Health, and Adjunct Professor, Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Family Medicine, and Health Services 

Office hours: By appointment

Offices: F-259 Health Sciences (Epidemiology); 412-C Smith Hall (Geography)

Tel: 206-543-7110


Please write to both addresses.


Class listserve—any of you can post. This address applies to both the HSERV and GEOG sections.


When communicating with me, please put “URGENT” in the subject line (I am getting 150 emails per day and until this gets straightened out, the “URGENT” will alert me to the fact that it is an important email.


The purpose of this course is to provide a broad introduction to medical geography in a seminar format. This is not a lecture class. The emphasis will be on scientific medical geography. It is assumed that students have some background in medical geography, epidemiology, or the health-related social sciences.


In a course/seminar that is as short as this, it is inevitable that some topics will not be covered. However, I am very open to student suggestions, preferences, and interests. On the first day of class, I will solicit your suggested changes to the course topics that follow. Thus, the topics are only suggested topics and are contingent upon specific interests, and readings will follow once I have ascertained your interests. As seminar students, you will have two weekly responsibilities: one is to form groups to kick-off each session (to be discussed in class), and the other is to complete the readings prior to the class session.


There is no textbook for the class. Readings will be both emailed to the class list, and put on e-reserve.


There is only one written requirement for this class: a term paper on a topic of interest to you (worth 90% of your grade; participation is worth 10%) It should be written as though you are submitting it to a professional journal. Thus, the paper’s length and format will be determined by what is acceptable in journals in your specific fields. The paper can be empirical or more theoretical; however, it does need to deal with a topic that you can justify as having medical geographic content. The work that you cite does not need to have been conducted by geographers—you will find quintessentially geographic work by medical entomologists, geneticists, medical anthropologists, epidemiologists, and many others. Projects by small groups are acceptable, since this is the manner in which most research is conducted and published, as long as you clarify the separate responsibilities of each group member.


Please come to seminar prepared to discuss the readings.


September 28

Introduction to course and to medical geography


October 5

Structure of Medical Geography



Mayer J. Epidemiologic medical geography in Companion to Medical Geography. Word processed document.


Rosenberg, M. W. (1998). "Medical or health geography? Populations, peoples and places." International journal of population geography : IJPG 4(3): 211-226


Mayer, J. D. and M. S. Meade (1994). "A Reformed Medical Geography Reconsidered." Professional Geographer 46(1): 103-106.


Kearns, R. and G. Moon (2002). "From medical to health geography: novelty, place and theory after a decade of change." Progress in Human Geography 26(5): 605-625.          


Scan Social Science and Medicine (available through our e-journals) for  2007, Vol. 4, issue 1, pp. 1-72. Read “Introduction” by Earikson and “Report” by Sarah Curtis. Also read at least two other articles of your choice.


Scan Health and Place from the last two years (2008-9) and read at least two articles of your choice.


October 12

The Ecology of Infectious Disease: Concepts


Saltenspiel, L. Tropical environments, human activities, and the transmission of infectious diseases. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 2000;43:3-31.


Meade, M. S. (1976). "Land development and human health in West Malaysia." Annals of the Associaiton of American Geographers 55(3): 428-439.


Meade, M. S. (1977). "Medical Geography as Human Ecology: The Dimension of Population Movement." Geographical Review 67(4): 379-383.


Eisenberg, J. N., M. A. Desai, et al. (2007). "Environmental determinants of infectious disease: a framework for tracking causal links and guiding public health research." Environmental health perspectives 115(8): 1216-1223


Plowright, R. K., S. H. Sokolow, et al. (2008). "Causal inference in disease ecology: investigating ecological drivers of disease emergence." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6(8): 420-429.


Levine, M. M. and O. S. Levine (1994). "Changes in human ecology and behavior in relation to the emergence of diarrheal diseases, including cholera." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 91(7): 2390-2394.


October 19

Ecology of Infectious Disease II


Jones, K. E., N. G. Patel, et al. (2008). "Global trends in emerging infectious diseases." Nature 451(7181): 990-993.


Wilcox, B. A. and D. J. Gubler (2005). "Disease ecology and the global emergence of zoonotic pathogens." Environmental health and preventive medicine 10(5): 263-272.


Mayer, J. D. (1996) "The political ecology of disease as a new focus for medical geography." Progress in Human Geography 20(4): 441-456


King, B. (2009). "Political ecologies of health." Progress in Human Geography 34(1): 38-55.


Zheng, J. et al. Relation between the transmission of Schistosomiasis japonica and construction of the Three Gorge Reservoir. Acta Tropica 2002;82:147-56.


October 26

Spatial Analysis and GIS


November 2

Geography and Chronic Diseases


November 9

Modeling the Geographical Spread of Infectious Disease


November 16

Geographic Inequalities and Access to Health Care; Urban/rural comparisons


November 23

Geographic Epidemiology of Psychiatric Issues; Emergency Medical Services


November 30

Small Area Analysis and Comparative Effectiveness


December 7

No class. JDM at American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.