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An animation depicting nationwide changes in physical and mental unhealthy days reported at the county-level spanning 10-years from 2010 - 2020.

Nationwide Changes in Physical and Mental Unhealthy Days Reported Over Time (2010 – 2020)

By Justin Sorensen

Our physical and mental health plays a critical role in how we go about our daily lives. During 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic presented many challenges for both, but just how dramatic of a change did we observe compared to years prior? In this week’s Map Monday release, we will examine patterns in the physical and mental unhealthy days reported throughout the nation spanning a 10-year period (2010 – 2020). #MapMonday

This week’s geospatial visualization utilizes datasets and mapping visualizations generated using Social Explorer software to examine changes in the average physical and mental unhealthy days reported over time for individuals 18-years and older. The analysis focuses on quality of life health data surveyed and collected from 2010 to 2020 and visualized as a series of thematic maps presented at the county-level for enhanced examination of the pattern changes taking place.

While there is a vast amount of data presented in each visualization, unique stories begin to emerge when examining the information over time. Take for instance the area in and around Kentucky…what do you see? In 2010, information reported for Kentucky depicted a higher number of physical and mental unhealthy days, but by 2016, an improvement in the overall numbers is being presented. This same visual examination can assist in identifying deteriorations in physical and mental health as well…can you identify the location? (Hint: Focus on changes to states in the Midwest).

Geospatially visualizing this data indicates that there are clear improvements and deterioration to physical and mental health occurring over time. Comparing data from previous years to that reported in 2020, we can see that many locations experienced a slight deterioration in physical and mental unhealthy days being reported while others showed little to no noticeable changes. What factors might be influencing these changes? Consider examining and working with these and other informative datasets available to you through Social Explorer and see what you can discover – (see below for information on accessing the software).

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

  • Did you know as students, staff, and faculty of the University of Utah, you have free access to the tools and datasets available through Social Explorer? Check out this past blog post for additional information: Exploring Demographic Data Through Social Explorer
  • Interested in creating or collaborating on a similar project? Please visit the GIS Services website to connect with me.

About Map Monday Releases from GIS Services

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will be releasing bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into projects and research you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

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