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Evaluation of SOVAT: An OLAP-GIS decision support system for community health assessment data analysis

Data analysis in community health assessment (CHA) involves the collection, integration, and analysis of large numerical and spatial data sets in order to identify health priorities. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) enable for management and analysis using spatial data, but have limitations in performing analysis of numerical data because of its traditional database architecture.

On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) is a multidimensional datawarehouse designed to facilitate querying of large numerical data. Coupling the spatial capabilities of GIS with the numerical analysis of OLAP, might enhance CHA data analysis.

OLAP-GIS systems have been developed by university researchers and corporations, yet their potential for CHA data analysis is not well understood. To evaluate the potential of an OLAP-GIS decision support system for CHA problem solving, we compared OLAP-GIS to the standard information technology (IT) currently used by many public health professionals.

Methods: SOVAT, an OLAP-GIS decision support system developed at the University of Pittsburgh, was compared against current IT for data analysis for CHA.

For this study, current IT was considered the combined use of SPSS and GIS (“SPSS-GIS”). Graduate students, researchers, and faculty in the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh were recruited.

Each round consisted of: an instructional video of the system being evaluated, two practice tasks, five assessment tasks, and one post-study questionnaire. Objective and subjective measurement included: task completion time, success in answering the tasks, and system satisfaction.

Results: Thirteen individuals participated. Inferential statistics were analyzed using linear mixed model analysis.

SOVAT was statistically significant (alpha = .01) from SPSS-GIS for satisfaction and time (p