Traditionally, health departments, government agencies and institutions presented incidence and mortality data in table form. However, presenting complex health-related data to the public and to health care professionals with varying degrees of statistical expertise or computer literacy can be challenging. Data presented in tables (“Age-adjusted incidence rates of colorectal cancer in Missouri, 1996 – 2011”) must also include details (“rates are per 100,000, age adjustment uses the Year 2000 Standard Population, confidence interval (CI) for rates by the Inverse Gamma method”). Missouri Cancer Registry and Research Center (MCR-ARC) wanted a more easily understood alternative.
Identify user-friendly software capable of producing maps, charts and graphs while protecting patient confidentiality.
We searched for data visualization software that can produce maps, graphs and charts while maintaining patient confidentiality. We selected an interactive, Internet-based mapping and data visualization tool. We initially purchased a desktop version. When funds became available, we purchased a server version, training and technical support for a three-year period. We worked with software developers to identify meaningful groupings and visually-pleasing color schemes. Users can create interactive dynamic reports with pre-defined views and area-based profile reports with text, tables, graphs, maps and images by accessing our website.
Users can create interactive dynamic reports with pre-defined views and area-based profile reports with text, tables, graphs, maps and images by accessing our website (http://mcr.umh.edu). Tutorials are available to walk users through the process of creating data tables showing cancer incidence and mortality rates for different sites for specific counties in Missouri and prevalence rates for cancer-related risk factors. Color-coding is used to show cancer incidence rates in quartiles by county for specific cancer sites by age group, race/ethnicity and stage at diagnosis.
Web-based interactive maps, charts and graphs offer user-friendly alternatives for communicating complex health-related data.