Race/ethnicity, gender, and monitoring socioeconomic gradients in health: a comparison of area-based socioeconomic measures--the public health disparities geocoding project

Am J Public Health. 2003 Oct;93(10):1655-71. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.10.1655.


Use of multilevel frameworks and area-based socioeconomic measures (ABSMs) for public health monitoring can potentially overcome the absence of socioeconomic data in most US public health surveillance systems. To assess whether ABSMs can meaningfully be used for diverse race/ethnicity-gender groups, we geocoded and linked public health surveillance data from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to 1990 block group, tract, and zip code ABSMs. Outcomes comprised death, birth, cancer incidence, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, childhood lead poisoning, and nonfatal weapons-related injuries. Among White, Black, and Hispanic women and men, measures of economic deprivation (e.g., percentage below poverty) were most sensitive to expected socioeconomic gradients in health, with the most consistent results and maximal geocoding linkage evident for tract-level analyses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lead Poisoning / economics
  • Lead Poisoning / ethnology
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Neoplasms / economics
  • Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Public Health Informatics*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Rhode Island / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / economics
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / ethnology
  • Small-Area Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Tuberculosis / economics
  • Tuberculosis / ethnology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / economics
  • Wounds, Gunshot / ethnology