What is “community mapping”?
Citizens can use spatial data to analyze and communicate about community issues, assets, and strategies for change. Community mapping, an action research method, provides citizens a means of envisioning spatial realities of healthier communities and lifestyles.
Community maps drawn from citizens’ experience can influence key decision makers by presenting relevant, focused and well visualized information about health and health care alternatives,
especially where health disparities may exist (pdf).
Actionable Research for Patient Centered Care and Patient Activation
Community mapping is as much about process as it is about 'getting the map done.' Mapping becomes a participatory and creative educational tool, actively engaging citizens with diverse perspectives to create dialogue and common understanding.
Between 2007 and 2009, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the Critical Junctures Institute engaged 116 Bellingham citizens to visualize their unique “health map”—the way in which they organize spatially community and personal assets that support their health and well-being.
These maps and accompanying interviews reveal wide variation in how citizens conceptualize their personal health and wellness space. Through creating a graphic framework for people to acknowledge their experience about place and health, communities are better equipped to address health promotion program design and policies (e.g., how the built environment affects physical activity levels and health outcomes).
A new collection of maps and interviews was compiled earlier this year. We asked each participant in the study to complete a measure of patient activation. Kristin Anderson, Associate Professor of Sociology at Western Washington University and co-director of the research project, took a look at the maps through the lens of patient activation and found some surprising patterns. See some maps and hear the voices of people who are at either end of the activation spectrum in these slides.
Community mapping and health: New frontier
Community mapping websites, such as Wayfaring and Plazes provide the means for their members to map and define places online. These networks are building data content either in structured format or in an unstructured but specific interest group basis.
There is great potential here for community-based health promotion design where citizens get to express what they want for themselves that will keep them healthy.