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Public Health


Efforts to stem the diabetes epidemic in the United States and other countries must take into account a complex array of individual, social, economic, and built environmental factors. Increasingly, scientists use information visualization tools to "make sense" of large multivariate data sets. Recently, ring map visualization has been explored as a means of depicting spatially referenced, multivariate data in a single information graphic. A ring map shows multiple attribute data sets as separate rings of information surrounding a base map of a particular geographic region of interest. In this study, ring maps were used to evaluate diabetes prevalence among adult South Carolina Medicaid recipients. In particular, county-level ring maps were used to evaluate disparities in diabetes prevalence among adult African Americans and Whites and to explore potential county-level associations between diabetes prevalence among adult African Americans and five measures of the socioeconomic and built environment—persistent poverty, unemployment, rurality, number of fast food restaurants per capita, and number of convenience stores per capita. Although Medicaid pays for the health care of approximately 15 percent of all diabetics, few studies have examined diabetes in adult Medicaid recipients at the county level. The present study thus addresses a critical information gap, while illustrating the utility of ring maps in multivariate investigations of population health and environmental context.

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APA Citation

Stewart, J. E., Battersby, S. E., Lòpez-De Fede, A., Remington, K. C., Hardin, W., & Mayfield-Smith, K. (2011). Diabetes and the socioeconomic and built environment: Geovisualization of disease prevalence and potential contextual associations using ring maps [Highly accessed]. International Journal of Health Geographics, 10(1), 18.


© 2011 Stewart et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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