Research using geographic information systems and geodemographics helped Camden Primary Care Trust target health campaigns, leading to significant savings.

Impacts

  • A geographic information system infrastructure was put in place, assisting Camden Primary Care Trust (PCT) activities, particularly related to health promotion and smoking cessation (quit smoking campaigns)
  • Considerable savings through better targeted campaigns - in excess of £405,000 from smoking cessation alone
  • A cultural, ethnic and linguistic classification system and birthplace geocoder have been developed and implemented, with potential for use within other PCTs
  • A positive impact on the effectiveness of communications and better targeting of messages.

"The KTP Associates have made a positive impact in Camden PCT's Public Health Department. Their work has introduced us to innovative research and will allow us to better support our public health initiatives." (Dr Laidon Shapo, Research Officer, Public Health Intelligence, Camden PCT)

About the research

Health inequalities can be caused by a number of factors, with geographical location and ethnicity both acknowledged to play a part. Camden Primary Care Trust (PCT) in the London borough of Camden is concerned with disease prevention, health improvement and the provision of healthcare. The borough encompasses a wide variation in wealth, education attainment and level of health, and ethnic minorities account for around 35 per cent of the population.

Prior to this project, interventions to improve health and reduce inequalities had met with only modest success. Camden PCT entered a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London. The aim was to use the Centre's expertise in geographic information systems (GIS) and geodemographics to map and profile the different elements influencing health, including socio-economic and lifestyle factors. This would enable the PCT to target health programmes and communications in a more effective way.

Two KTP Associates were recruited for this collaboration; Kate Jones applied GIS and geodemographics to implement a health profiling system, while Pablo Mateos worked to develop a name-based cultural, ethnic and linguistic classification system and a birthplace geocoder.

As a result of the knowledge transfer, Camden PCT has acquired specialist skills and training in the basic principles of geodemographics, GIS, data management and spatial analysis. The GIS infrastructure is enabling the PCT to develop social marketing campaigns, tailored towards specific community groups.