Open Access Correspondence

Geographic Information System and tools of spatial analysis in a pneumococcal vaccine trial

Antti Tanskanen1, Leilani T Nillos2*, Antti Lehtinen3, Hanna Nohynek1, Diozele Hazel M Sanvictores2, Eric AF Simões4, Veronica L Tallo2, Marilla G Lucero2 and ARIVAC Consortium

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

2 Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Muntinlupa City, Philippines

3 School of Economics, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland

4 University of Colorado, Denver, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:51  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-51

Published: 20 January 2012



The goal of this Geographic Information System (GIS) study was to obtain accurate information on the locations of study subjects, road network and services for research purposes so that the clinical outcomes of interest (e.g., vaccine efficacy, burden of disease, nasopharyngeal colonization and its reduction) could be linked and analyzed at a distance from health centers, hospitals, doctors and other important services. The information on locations can be used to investigate more accurate crowdedness, herd immunity and/or transmission patterns.


A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of an 11-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (11PCV) was conducted in Bohol Province in central Philippines, from July 2000 to December 2004. We collected the information on the geographic location of the households (N = 13,208) of study subjects. We also collected a total of 1982 locations of health and other services in the six municipalities and a comprehensive GIS data over the road network in the area.


We calculated the numbers of other study subjects (vaccine and placebo recipients, respectively) within the neighborhood of each study subject. We calculated distances to different services and identified the subjects sharing the same services (calculated by distance). This article shows how to collect a complete GIS data set for human to human transmitted vaccine study in developing country settings in an efficient and economical way.


The collection of geographic locations in intervention trials should become a routine task. The results of public health research may highly depend on spatial relationships among the study subjects and between the study subjects and the environment, both natural and infrastructural.

Trial registration number