Geography and Geographers in the Field of Health

Geography and Geographers in the Field of Health

What Does Geography And Geographers Brings To The Field Of Health To Complement And Challenge The Theoretical And Methodological Perspectives From Other Disciplines?


Geography is a discipline that utilizes environment skills and knowledge in addressing economic, environmental, health, and social issues. The role of geography in the field of health has recently raised different reactions from several scholars and social thinkers. Geography helps people examine and reflect on their situation, it promotes mutual awareness by appreciating the role, and contribution of others disciplines in the health sector. Some scholars argue that geography and geographers have a significant role in complementing the methodological and theoretical perspectives introduced in health sector by other disciplines (Stoddart, 2007). Alternatively, some scholars argue that research methodologies and designs that are used by geographers are not capable of addressing challenges or complimenting the methodological or theoretical perspectives highlighted by other disciplines. Geography competence is essential especially when implementing procedures of healthcare policies and projects. This script demonstrates the manner in which geography and geographers compliment the theoretical and methodological perspective from other disciplines in the field of health.

Geography offers valuable opportunities that enable healthcare providers utilize various techniques and theories in solving emerging health complications (Kenzer, 2009). Geographical theories provide a comprehensive framework for examining the substantive relationship within a problem. For instance, geographical theories assist healthcare professionals to examine the economic, social, political, and environmental problems that surround emerging healthcare complications. In addition, some social theories offer normative standards and measures to evaluate the long-term impacts of emerging social complications on future health development (Sant, 2002). In contrast with disciplines, geography researchers have higher interest of undertaking investigation beyond the obvious analysis to intensive applications of the result into the real life situation (Stoddart, 2007). Moreover, geography scholars have systematic mechanisms for examining the health impacts of their skills and knowledge. Geographers’ participation in the formulation and implementation of health care policies ranges from the initial recommendation to active involvement in the entire implementations process. Geographical knowledge can inform stages such as public investigation and inquiries, dissemination of information stage, field involvement, environmental mitigation stage, and in the evaluation of the instant and long-term effect of the identified strategies and policies (Darby, 2006).

Researchers have identified that discrimination, segregation, crime poverty, housing, and transport are the core factors that affect the health condition of the people who lives in urban areas especially in the developing and in less developed countries. In addition, health practitioners’ utilize applied geographical knowledge in spatial evaluation and analysis that are essential in describing distribution of diseases. This has provided healthcare providers with information that is essential for planning. For example, health care strategists can identify areas that need immediate interventions to curtail the spread of a particular disease. Applied geography skills are used to undertake computer mapping of disease incidences in physical and human environment (Taylor, 2005). The balance between the impact and role of geography skills in healthcare system varies with time due to the prevailing socio-political environment. For instance, in the situation where external pressures are high, healthcare providers rely on geographical problem solving mechanisms. However, in the situation of national economic expansion, more academic theories and methodologies are applied in examining the cause of a problem. Geographical theories skills and methodologies are also recognized for increasing self-awareness in the society (Stoddart, 2007). Self-awareness emanating from geographical theories and assumptions assist healthcare practitioners in understanding their position in socio-political structures and environmental factors that results to emerging changes in life styles (Kenzer, 2009).

Geographical skills are also essential in the examination of causes and health impact of natural phenomena such as coastal erosion, flooding, drought, landslides and acid precipitation. In addition, geographers have a credible role in evaluating the causes and impacts of environmental changes in health sector (Habermas, 2004). In health sector, geographers play essential roles of contributing in examining the supply and quality of water, the impacts of deforestation in health sector, the side effects of wetland conservation, derelict, and the impact of agricultural de-intensification on nutrition pattern. Moreover, scholars have recently utilized geography concepts in addressing environmental, economic and social problems that affects the health condition of the population in both rural and urban areas (Kenzer, 2009).


In the light of the above analysis, it is clear that geography theoretical frameworks and methodological perspectives play critical roles in the field of health. Most of the researches that are conducted in health sectors and in other disciplines are based on the skills and knowledge of geography. Geographical knowledge helps healthcare researchers and professionals to employ the theoretical frameworks and methodologies from other disciplines in identifying and evaluating real-world health problems. Various disciplines that either challenges or compliment theoretical frameworks in health sectors are based on environmental issues. Consequently, geography challenges some aspects in healthcare system and geographers assume a remarkable role in the sustainability and development of health sector. This means that professionals need to understand and appreciate the role and impact of geography in heath sector and in other disciplines.


Darby, H. C. (2006). The theory and practice of geography. London: University of Liverpool        Press.

Habermas, J. (2004). Theory and practice. London: Heinemann.

Kenzer, M. (2009). Applied geography: issues, questions, and concerns. Dordrecht: Kluwer          Academic.

Sant, M. (2002). Applied geography: practice, problems and prospects. Harlow: Longman.

Stoddart, D. (2007). To claim the high ground: geography for the end of the century.        Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 12, 327–336.

Taylor, P. (2005). The value of a geographical perspective. In R. J. Johnston (Ed.), The      future of geography. London:  Methuen.


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