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Accuracy of city postal code coordinates as a proxy for location of residence

Author(s): Bow C Jennifer | Waters Nigel | Faris Peter | Seidel Judy | Galbraith P Diane | Knudtson Merril | Ghali William

Journal: International Journal of Health Geographics
ISSN 1476-072X

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: Geographic Location | Postal Code | GIS (Geographical Information Systems)

Abstract Background Health studies sometimes rely on postal code location as a proxy for the location of residence. This study compares the postal code location to that of the street address using a database from the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcome Assessment in Coronary Heart Disease (APPROACH©). Cardiac catheterization cases in an urban Canadian City were used for calendar year 1999. We determined location in meters for both the address (using the City of Calgary Street Network File in ArcView 3.2) and postal code location (using Statistic Canada's Postal Code Conversion File). Results The distance between the two estimates of location for each case were measured and it was found that 87.9% of the postal code locations were within 200 meters of the true address location (straight line distances) and 96.5% were within 500 meters of the address location (straight line distances). Conclusions We conclude that postal code locations are a reasonably accurate proxy for address location. However, there may be research questions for which a more accurate description of location is required.
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