Catchments vs LHAs

Establishing Geographic Population Catchment Areas Using Proximity and Road Access for Rural Maternity Services in British Columbia

Research Team

  • Principal Investigator: Nadine Schuurman and Stefan Grzybowski
  • Co-Investigators:  Jude Kornelsen and Anne-Marie Broemeling

Funding Agency

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to map unique geographic catchment areas for each hospital maternity service in rural British Columbia through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.

There were 62 rural British Columbia community hospital maternity services in 1999. GIS mapping can create detailed population catchments for each of these maternity services based on 1 hour surface transport time criteria, an activity not possible with current local health area mapping techniques.

Currently, Local Health Area mapping only approximates catchment areas and is not adjusted for surface travel time. Rural service planning by the Regional Health Authorities is based on potential air travel time which does not account for usual methods of access for most parturient women in labour. Defining natural population catchments for each rural service will allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of rural maternity services and contribute to a more informed health service planning process. The GIS environment will further allow us to rapidly remap service catchments in response to changes in specific hospital services.

Project Updates

Using GIS technology, Dr. Schuurman has been able to develop a Geographic User Interface (GUI) that can map hospital services and their 1, 2 or 4-hour catchments by surface travel time.  This interface can be used to determine the proportion of the population served by a particular hospital service, and the proportion that would not be within a specified catchment.

Related Links

Schuurman, N., Fiedler, R.S., Grzybowski, S., Grund, D. Defining rational hospital catchments for non-urban areas based on travel-time. International  Journal of Health Geographics  2006, 5:43.  Doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-5-43.