Quilt Plots: A Simple Tool for the Visualisation of Large Epidemiological Data

<div><p>Background</p><p>Graphical representation of data is one of the most easily comprehended forms of explanation. The current study describes a simple visualization tool which may allow greater understanding of medical and epidemiological data.</p><p>Method</p><p>We propose a simple tool for visualization of data, known as a “<i>quilt plot</i>”, that provides an alternative to presenting large volumes of data as frequency tables. Data from the Australian Needle and Syringe Program survey are used to illustrate “<i>quilt plots</i>”.</p><p>Conclusion</p><p>Visualization of large volumes of data using “<i>quilt plots</i>” enhances interpretation of medical and epidemiological data. Such intuitive presentations are particularly useful for the rapid assessment of problems in the data which cannot be readily identified by manual review. We recommend that, where possible, “<i>quilt plots</i>” be used along with traditional quantitative assessments of the data as an explanatory data analysis tool.</p></div>