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Am J Public Health. 2001 Jul;91(7):1114-6.

On the wrong side of the tracts? Evaluating the accuracy of geocoding in public health research.

Author information

1
Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA. nkrieger@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

This study sought to determine the accuracy of geocoding for public health databases.

METHODS:

A test file of 70 addresses, 50 of which involved errors, was generated, and the file was geocoded to the census tract and block group levels by 4 commercial geocoding firms. Also, the "real world" accuracy of the best-performing firm was evaluated.

RESULTS:

Accuracy rates in regard to geocoding of the test file ranged from 44% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 32%, 56%) to 84% (95% CI = 73%, 92%). The geocoding firm identified as having the best accuracy rate correctly geocoded 96% of the addresses obtained from the public health databases.

CONCLUSIONS:

Public health studies involving geocoded databases should evaluate and report on methods used to verify accuracy.

PMID:
11441740
PMCID:
PMC1446703
DOI:
10.2105/ajph.91.7.1114
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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