COVID-19 and the Geography of Misery

Professor Lex Comber of the School of Geography is leading a research project which will examine the changes in the spatial trends in geography antidepressant prescribing as a result of COVID-19.

The project entitled COVID-19 and the Geography of Misery will use monthly prescribing data which is made freely available by the government. The spatial patterns of antidepressant prescribing show some distinct geographies. And it is well-known from the literature that certain socio-economic groups are under and over-represented, with ethnicity being especially complex, with under reporting of problems typically treated by antidepressants within particular BAME communities. As a result of COVID-19, many mental health conditions may have been unreported.

The research will examine the prescribing data in order to identify areas where COVID-19 related under-reporting amongst already difficult to reach groups may be greatest.

Professor Comber’s research in Spatial Data Analytics develops methods that integrate and analyse high volumes of spatial data to uncover hidden patterns and correlations. It provides spatial insight for social and environmental applications.

This project on COVID-19 and the Geography of Misery, provides a great example of channelling research expertise to the new challenges imposed by the pandemic. This also opens up new funding opportunities, even to those whose work are not necessary on virology, epidemiologic or public health.

Professor Julia Martin-Ortega, water@leeds Associate Director

If you are inspired to build COVID19 research into your current work, water@leeds can support you on water-related funding bids.  Visit our COVID-19 webpage or contact our co-ordinator Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez at water@leeds.ac.uk for further information on how we can help.

COVID-19 and the Geography of Misery will build on already published work, and on ideas in ‘The changing geography of clinical Misery in England: lessons in spatio-temporal data analysis’  by  Alexis Comber1, Chris Brunsdon2, Martin Charlton2 and John Cromby3 , the chapter of a forthcoming book Big Data Applications in Geography and Planning: An Essential Companion‘, Birkin M., Clarke G.P., Corcoran J., Stimson R. (eds, 2020), Edward Elgar, London.  Prepublication copy available here.


1 School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
2 National Centre for Geocomputation, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland
3 School of Business, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK