Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Interdisciplinary Studies (Graduate)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rinku Roy Chowdhury

Second Committee Member

Daniel A. Griffith

Third Committee Member

Lora E. Fleming

Fourth Committee Member

Elizabeth Aranda


This dissertation explores the spatial patterns and place-based characteristics of colorectal cancer (CRC) late stage incidence and CRC-specific mortality in Miami-Dade County. Because CRC is the second leading cause of death among all cancers and is almost 90 percent preventable through medical screenings, investigations of CRC disparities across groups and communities are extremely relevant in the fight against cancer. This paper analyzes the geographic distribution of CRC cases in Miami-Dade County between two periods, 1988-1992 and 1998-2002 to: a) identify significant "hot spots" or clusters of disease; b) investigate associations of CRC patterns with neighborhood level characteristics such as socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, and poverty; and c) explore the policy implications of the spatial trends identified for the disease, with particular reference to the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. This dissertation analyzes data from the Florida Cancer Data Registry and tract level U.S. Census data, to identify the spatial distribution of CRC and study its relation to place-based variables using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial statistical modeling. Identifying spatial clusters of disease can assist in targeting public health interventions and improving social service delivery, particularly for uninsured populations. Identifying communities facing greater obstacles to screenings and quality medical care through the use of spatial analysis is an effort to mitigate these barriers while simultaneously providing empirically based evidence linking neighborhood-level social and economic conditions to health disparities.


Medical Sociology; Spatial Epidemiology; Colorectal Cancer; Medical Geography; Miami