Appel à contribution – Health & Space 2012

Appel à contribution – Health & Space 2012


19 – 21 September 2012

Aix-Marseille University, Saint-Charles campus, Marseille

31st March 2012 : deadline for abstract proposal

The colloquium is organized by the UMR 6012 ESPACE, a research team from the Department of Geography of the Aix-Marseille University . After the success of the first edition, our ambition is to provide every two years the opportunity for doctorants, postdoctorants, researchers and public health professionals to present their original research dealing with the spatial aspects of health and health care issues. Special attention is given to quantitative approaches in this field, either related to observational or theoretical studies.

The colloquium is focusing on the changes that both health geography and spatial epidemiology are experiencing. The specificity of these fields is to integrate knowledge about how the physical and social environment and spatial interactions can determine health and health care issues. Spatial modelling, enriched by new sources of geographical information, tend to become a major tool to understand the complexity of these issues. Conceptually, three main stages can be outlined.

From fieldwork to data

Data collection protocols have to be renewed in order to integrate the spatial dimension. New datasets should be compatible with spatial models be they aggregated, disaggregated or multi-scale. The anisotropic nature of the life environment of sick individuals (human or animal) should be fully integrated in the fieldwork campaigns’ design. Specific issues related to the transition from fieldwork to data, and from data to models will be specifically addressed in this conference.

Epidemiology and spatial analysis

Spatial epidemiology and spatial analysis of health issues will constitute the second main theme. The added value of the spatial dimension as an explanatory variable of epidemiological systems will be clearly stressed. This dimension is of prime importance in the identification of contamination places, living environment and frequented places. Both transmittable (human/human, animal/human, animal/animal) and non-transmittable diseases (cancer…) will constitute privileged topics. Some workshops will specifically focus on the difficulties linked to the joint integration of physiological (water, food) and socio-economical (social classes, frequented places, social links, specific practices) variables. The choice of an optimal scale in epidemiological processes will also be brought up as a critical question.

Modelling and simulation

Modelling and simulation will be at the core of the third axis of the conference. Several recent publications show the interest of spatial representations of health risks. They usually aim at highlighting sources of infection or diffusion gradients in pathologies. Simulation techniques such as cellular automatas or multi-agent models are bringing new analysis tools. But these tools have to be used for what they are and the questions of what is modelled? How to interpret the results? How to relate explanatory variables to the actual health risk? shouldn’t be dismissed. In a risk management approach, the presence of a pathogen should be confronted to the actual risk of becoming sick. The presence of the former isn’t necessarily implying the occurrence of the latter.

This conference will eventually deal with validation protocols linked to simulation models in spatial epidemiology. Some processes involving animal species (malaria, plague) are relatively prone to modelling, whereas other pathologies with less obvious causes such as cancers are much more difficult to model and to validate.

Organizing committee

Frédéric Audard, Marion Borderon, Vincent Laperrière, Sébastien Oliveau