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Linking and Mapping Out-of-hours Calls to GPs in Devon, England

Researcher Researcher A, School of Nursing, University of Southampton
Discipline Nursing, public health, social statistics
Outputs Linkage of patient postcoded data to grid references, output area and super output area codes using the All Fields Postcode Directory and SPSS software
Study area Devon, England
Geographical units Postcode, output area, super output area
Time period 2003
Reference datasets Individual callers to out of hours GP services, postcoded; All Fields Postcode Directory; ID2004; ONS 2004 urban and rural area classification of output areas
Main tasks Researcher A had received anonymised postcoded records relating to callers to an out of hours GP service in Devon, covering two months in 2003.  She was interested to understand the relationship between the pattern of calls and distance to out of hours primary care centres, deprivation and rurality.  The postcode on the records was the key to linking all these datasets using the All Fields Postcode Directory (AFPD).  It was necessary to match postcodes against grid references, output area (OA) and super output area (SOA) codes because the target datasets were each available for different geographical units.  Grid references were necessary for the calculation of distances; OAs to obtain the ONS classification of urban and rural areas, and SOAs for the Index of  Deprivation 2004.  As an academic users, Researcher A was able to download a comma-separated version of the 2003 AFPD from the UKBORDERS service and loaded into the SPSS statistical package.  The postcode field was used to link between the patient data and the relevant fields in the directory using the Match Cases function.  A variety of analyses were conducted using the matched data, including mapping of OA and SOA data using ArcGIS.
  Hints, Tips and References
Hints & Tips At the time when Researcher A conducted this analysis in 2006, it was necessary to download the postcode directory and undertaken matching in a software package such as SPSS or Access.  The GeoConvert service now provides an equivalent facility online for UK academic users, but users with multiple matching requirements or very large numbers of records may still prefer to download the directory file and undertake matching locally.  The postcode directory known in 2003 as the AFPD is now called the National Statistics Postcode Directory (NSPD).
References -

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