Help me determine my research question for my thesis?

04-07-2020 01:45 PM
New Contributor

Hello everyone, I'm at the start-up phase of my thesis in geoinformatics and was hoping someone here would be kind enough to aid me in narrowing down the subject. The University supervisor and I have established that the subject will be along the lines of spatial accessibility to healthcare in Norway.

My initial research question was to investigate the spatial accessibility in cabins to health clinics in specific regions, especially since a large portion of the Norwegian population (~10%) are cabin owners and migrate to their cabins during holiday times and so on. These cabins are often located in rural, mountainous areas far from health care services and I thought it could be interesting to see if the capacity in the closest nearby hospitals would be able to withstand the new hidden demand. Would there be any consequenece for ambulatory care sensitive conditions, for example.

Data I have access to:

All buildings as points, with a building-type category (no capacity per cabin) (I am able to extract cabins)

A road-network for the entire country which needs to be built

Administrative borders

I have all hospitals in a point layer with data like: number of physicians and hospital beds.

I'm now on the onset of making a literature review on the subject, but I can't help feeling that the whole study I am attempting to do is in a few ways redundant. Can anyone aid me in this? I have about 2 weeks to finish the literature review, and I feel like the subject at hand is not even established, which makes it incredibly difficult to do

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Occasional Contributor

Hi Tom,

Here is a link to an accessibility study of mountain areas in Southern Norway, which inter alia analysed  access to hospitals: Fjellområder og fjellkommuner i Sør-Norge. Definisjon, avgrensing og karakterisering. - Østlandsfors... 

It is from 2010 but you may still get some inspiration from it.

The ESPON TRACC project ( ) prepared an overview of different types of European-wide and regional accessibility indicators, operationalized them, and applied them to a number of case studies. Access to hospitals and access to general practitioners were one of the cases. The project also includes hints to literature for further reading.

The ESPON PROFECY project ( developd an analytical framework as how to identify inner peripheries, i.e. areas with comparatively low levels of access to services of general interest (SGI) compared to neighbouring regions. Again, health care was selected as one of the crucial SGIs. From this approach you may get ideas as how to analyse travel time surfaces.

Even though these studies only partially describe how the accessibility analyses were implemented in GIS, they may help you in shaping your  resesarch question.

Otherwise, if you really want to analyse capacity issues in the health sector, I would recommend that you also review relevant Norwegian legislation as the ratio of hospital beds/inhabitants or the ratio doctors/inhabitants is a sensitive political issue which for many countries is only partially connected to accessibility levels (some countries however identified travel time thresholds (i.e. maximan travel time) for hospitals and rescue services).