The Use of GIS Technology in Selecting a Site for a Community Mental Health Center: A Case Example

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research, methodology


Estimates suggest that 26% of adults in the US have a diagnosable mental disorder (Kessler, Chiu, Demler, &, Walters, 2005). Wang, Lane, Olfson, Pincus, Wells, & Kessler (2005) documented that only 25% of these individuals receives treatment. Two of the major barriers associated with individuals' access care are (1) availability of mental health providers (US Department of Health and Human Services, 1999) and (2) distance from available services (Higgs, 2004; Holton et al., 1973; Dworin et al., 1964). This study used Geographical Information System (GIS) technology to identify potential sites in Hillsborough County, Florida on which to locate a new community mental health center (CMHC). Eight criteria (six constraint and two suitability) were considered in the analysis. The criteria included: (1) within county boundaries, (2) accessibility, (3) distance from existing CMHCs, (4) zoning, (5) land use, (6) parcel size, (7) mental health need, and (8) median family income in assessing the most appropriate locations. The analysis identified 53 land parcels in Hillsborough County that met the six constraint criteria. Suitability scores for these parcels ranged from a low of 2.25 to a high of 7.0. Parcels with the highest suitable scores were located in three distinct parts of the county. The full presentation will summarize the potential value and application of GIS to mental health services research.

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Paper presented at the 137th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association on November, 2010 in Denver, CO.