Social Determinants of Health and Emergency and Hospital Use by Children With Chronic Disease

Hosp Pediatr. 2020 Jun;10(6):471-480. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2019-0248.


Objectives: To evaluate the association between caregiver-reported social determinants of health (SDOH) and emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations by children with chronic disease.

Methods: This was a nested retrospective cohort study (December 2015 to May 2017) of children (0-18 years) receiving Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid enrolled in a case management program. Caregiver assessments were coded for 4 SDOH: food insecurity, housing insecurity, caregiver health concerns, and safety concerns. Multivariable hurdle Poisson regression was used to assess the association between SDOH with ED and hospital use for 1 year, adjusting for age, sex, and race and ethnicity. ED use was also adjusted for medical complexity.

Results: A total of 226 children were included. Patients were 9.1 years old (SD: 4.9), 60% male, and 30% Hispanic. At least 1 SDOH was reported by 59% of caregivers, including food insecurity (37%), housing insecurity (23%), caregiver health concerns (18%), and safety concerns (11%). Half of patients had an ED visit (55%) (mean: 1.5 per year [SD: 2.4]), and 20% were hospitalized (mean: 0.4 per year [SD: 1.1]). Previously unaddressed food insecurity was associated with increased ED use in the subsequent year (odds ratio: 3.43 [1.17-10.05]). Among those who had ≥1 ED visit, the annualized ED rate was higher in patients with a previously unaddressed housing insecurity (rate ratio: 1.55 [1.14-2.09]) or a safety concern (rate ratio: 2.04 [1.41-2.96]).

Conclusions: Over half of caregivers of children with chronic disease enrolled in a case management program reported an SDOH insecurity or concern. Patients with previously unaddressed food insecurity had higher ED rates but not hospitalization rates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Social Determinants of Health*
  • United States / epidemiology