Evaluating Geographic Patterns of Infant Mortality and Preterm Birth Event as iCalendar

(Science Event Tags, Computer Science, Seminars)

28 May 2018

12 - 1pm

Venue: Building 303, Room B05

Location: City Campus

Host: Department of Computer Science

Associate Professor Elisabeth Dowling Root, The Ohio State University.
Associate Professor Elisabeth Dowling Root

Novel Methods for Using Big Data to Evaluate Population-level Impacts of Public Health Interventions

Speaker: Elisabeth Dowling Root, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Geography & Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University


In the United States, Ohio has one of the highest reported infant mortality (IM) rates, consistently ranking 45 out of 51 in the country. Further, minority populations experience infant mortality and pre-term birth rates nearly triple that of white populations, demonstrating deep racial disparities in the health and well-being of women and children across the state.

In 2013, the State of Ohio formed the Ohio Equity Institute (OEI) to target nine counties for infant mortality prevention efforts. To support the OEI program, the State funded a “big data” research initiative which harnessed the power of data from a multitude of state agencies to:

  1. Understand the community-level social determinants of infant mortality,
  2. Inform targeted programming, and
  3. Evaluate the population-level impacts of the OEI initiative.

This seminar will explore how spatial analysis techniques are being used with state data resources to examine the spatial, temporal, and demographic dimensions of infant mortality in Ohio and evaluate the placement of the OEI initiatives.

We employ an iterative process whereby results from statistical models of infant mortality and preterm birth are used in a spatial cluster analysis. Findings from the unadjusted analyses show significant clusters of infant mortality and preterm birth in urban areas, suggesting clusters are driven by demographic factors (e.g., concentrated minority populations).

Further modeling suggest that community structural factors in these urban areas, such as crime and access to health services explain much of the disparity in mortality and preterm birth. While some clusters of preterm birth are explained by demographic factors, the adjusted analyses reveal new and persistent clusters, suggesting geographic areas to expand the state’s OEI program.

Spatiotemporal clusters of infant mortality and preterm birth are reduced over time in the state’s OEI counties, pointing to successful prevention programming in the areas targeted by the OEI program.

About our speaker

Elisabeth Dowling Root is an Associate Professor in the Geography Department and the Division of Epidemiology at The Ohio State University. Dr. Root completed her PhD in Geography at UNC Chapel Hill in 2009 where she was an NSF Predoctoral Fellow at the Carolina Population Center.

Dr. Root is a health geographer whose research focuses on evaluating the impact of large-scale health interventions using geospatial analysis and Geographic Information Systems and examining the effect of our physical environment and social structures on health behaviors and outcomes. She applies a holistic framework, integrating data on individual- and community-levels to study multi-scalar impacts on human health.

Dr. Root currently has active research projects in Honduras, Bangladesh, and the Philippines funded through NIH, NSF, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Most recently she began working with the State Department of Health on the Infant Mortality Research Partnership and the Opioid Analytics project which apply spatial analysis and mapping to the State’s “big data” resources for surveillance activities and to target local health programs.


This seminar is co-branded between School of Population Health, Precision-Driven Health and the Department of Computer Science.  All welcome!