Purpose: To calculate hospitalization rates of gastroenteritis among children in Ontario and to determine the association of hospitalization of gastroenteritis with sociodemographic indicators and the availability of hospital beds.
Methods: Ontario admission rates were calculated from hospital discharge data for fiscal year 1991/92. Small area variations, correlations between sociodemographic indicators and admission rates were studied.
Results: The age- and sex-adjusted admission rate in 1991/92 was 411.1/100,000 with a 14-fold variation in Ontario. The availability of paediatric beds was the only significant factor associated with high admission rates, with an estimated relative risk of 6.75 (95% confidence interval: 1.26, 36.09, p < 0.027).
Conclusion: Since most children with gastroenteritis can be successfully managed as outpatients, high admission rates may be an indication of unnecessary hospitalization.