The Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) is working with the charity Sense About Science in the development of ‘An Environment and Health Atlas for England and Wales’. This collaboration aims to improve accessibility, aid interpretation and expand interest in the research to a wider audience.
SAHSU are developing an atlas of England and Wales, which maps the spatial variation in exposure to potential environmental hazards and the health-outcomes of major public health importance over a 25 year period. The aim of the Atlas is to provide information, assist in development of hypotheses about the role of environmental factors in chronic disease and to inform public health research and action. The Atlas is being developed so that it is accessible to a range of audiences. The Atlas will be made available in print and also as an on-line interactive tool.
In order to ensure that the Atlas is accessible to the public, policy makers and academics, SAHSU are undertaking a consultation with the charity ‘Sense about Science’ (http://www.senseaboutscience.org/) who promote the public understanding of science.
So far two advisory group meetings have been organised by Sense About Science. Attendees ranged in background from academics within the field (i.e. epidemiologists, health geographers, and statisticians), academics from alternate disciplines, medical doctors, journalists and science communicators, representatives from government organisations, local government and interested public. The advisory groups were lively and informative. Attendees reached consensus on a number of recommendations on adaptations to the Environment and Health Atlas format to improve readability and to help with interpretation of the maps.
SAHSU plan to hold a final advisory group on the on-line interactive version of the Environment and Health Atlas to be made available in 2013 after the print version comes out. The interactive version will be complementary to the print edition. Via this interface, users will be able to look at either an environmental pollutant or one of the health outcomes for a specific geographical area and compare this with other areas in England and Wales. Users will be able to ‘zoom in’ to data using a postcode search function. Text boxes and videos from the research team will provide guidance on interpretation of the data. This tool is designed to be of interest to the public and policy makers as well as researchers in the field of environmental and spatial epidemiology
For further information on the launch of ‘An Environment and Health Atlas for England and Wales’ please contact SAHSU@imperial.ac.uk