Neighborhood Socioeconomic Deprivation and Health Care Utilization of Medically Complex Children

Pediatrics. 2022 Apr 1;149(4):e2021052592. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-052592.


Objectives: To assess the association between neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation and health care utilization in a cohort of children with medical complexity (CMC).

Methods: Cross-sectional study of children aged <18 years receiving care in our institution's patient-centered medical home (PCMH) for CMC in 2016 to 2017. Home addresses were assigned to census tracts and a tract-level measure of socioeconomic deprivation (Deprivation Index with range 0-1, higher numbers represent greater deprivation). Health care utilization outcomes included emergency department visits, hospitalizations, inpatient bed days, and missed PCMH clinic appointments. To evaluate the independent association between area-level socioeconomic deprivation and utilization outcomes, multivariable Poisson and linear regression models were used to control for demographic and clinical covariates.

Results: The 512 included CMC lived in neighborhoods with varying degrees of socioeconomic deprivation (median 0.32, interquartile range 0.26-0.42, full range 0.12-0.82). There was no association between area-level deprivation and emergency department visits (adjusted risk ratio [aRR] 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.93 to 1.04), hospitalizations (aRR 0.97; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.01), or inpatient bed-days (aRR 1.00, 95% CI: 0.80 to 1.27). However, there was a 13% relative increase in the missed clinic visit rate for every 0.1 unit increase in Deprivation Index (95% CI: 8%-18%).

Conclusions: A child's socioeconomic context is associated with their adherence to PCMH visits. Our PCMH for CMC includes children living in neighborhoods with a range of socioeconomic deprivation and may blunt effects from harmful social determinants. Incorporating knowledge of the socioeconomic context of where CMC and their families live is crucial to ensure equitable health outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Socioeconomic Factors