Work programme

The work programme of the Unit comprises a mix of research in our key research areas, support for research projects that require specialist skills within the Unit (especially management, linkage and analysis of large datasets) and teaching GIS and spatial epidemiology on undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Current research

Research projects we are currently involved in supporting include examining:

  • Migration and health inequalities in Sheffield, funded by Sheffield PCT

  • Alcohol outlet density and alcohol related harm, a component in an MRC funded Strategic Grant

  • Avoidable hospital admissions, funded by NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation

  • Hospital admissions for vascular surgery, a component in an NIHR funded Programme Grant


Staff of the Unit have successfully conducted a number of training courses which have focussed on the application of GIS and spatial epidemiology to Public Health practice. These courses have been aimed at analysts working in the health sector and post-graduate degree level students.


A selection of themes which illustrate the work of the Unit, with selected publications, are provided below.

Outdoor air pollution and stroke

  • Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Smeeton NC, Beevers SD, Campbell MJ, Wolfe CD. Outdoor air pollution and incidence of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke: a small-area level ecological study. Stroke 2012;43:22-7.

  • Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Smeeton NC, Beevers SD, Campbell MJ, Wolfe CD. Impact of outdoor air pollution on survival after stroke: population-based cohort study. Stroke 2010;41:869-77.

Alcohol-related mortality

  • Strong M, Pearson T, MacNab YC, Maheswaran R. Mapping gender variation in the spatial pattern of alcohol-related mortality: A Bayesian analysis using data from South Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology 2012;3:141-9.

  • Erskine S, Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Gleeson D. Socioeconomic deprivation, urban-rural location and alcohol-related mortality in England and Wales. BMC Public Health 2010;10:99.

Breast cancer screening

  • Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Jordan H, Black D. Socioeconomic deprivation, travel distance, location of service and uptake of breast cancer screening in North Derbyshire, UK. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2006;60:208-12.

Walk-in centres

  • Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Jiwa M. Repeat attenders at NHS walk-in centres – a descriptive study using routine data. Public Health 2009;123:506-10.

  • Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Munro J, Jiwa M, Campbell MJ, Nicholl J. Impact of NHS walk-in centres on primary care access times: ecological study. British Medical Journal 2007;334:838-41.

Food deserts

  • Pearson T, Russell J, Campbell MJ, Barker ME. Do 'food deserts' influence fruit and vegetable consumption? - A cross-sectional study. Appetite 2005;45:195-7.

Modelling GP data

  • Strong M, Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Fryers P. A method for modelling GP practice level deprivation scores using GIS. International Journal of Health Geographics 2007;6:38.

  • Strong M, Maheswaran R, Pearson T. A comparison of methods for calculating general practice level socioeconomic deprivation. International Journal of Health Geographics 2006;5:29.

Spatial cluster detection methodology

  • Read S, Bath PA, Willett P, Maheswaran R. A study on the use of Gumbel approximation with the Bernoulli spatial scan statistic. Statistics in Medicine 2013 (DOI: 10.1002/sim.5746)

  • Read S, Bath P, Willett P, Maheswaran R. Measuring the spatial accuracy of the Spatial Scan Statistic. Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology 2011;2:69-78.