Associations of four indexes of social determinants of health and two community typologies with new onset type 2 diabetes across a diverse geography in Pennsylvania

Brian S. Schwartz, Marynia Kolak, Jonathan S. Pollak, Melissa N. Poulsen, Karen Bandeen-Roche, Katherine A. Moon, Joseph DeWalle, Karen R. Siegel, Carla I. Mercado, Giuseppina Imperatore, Annemarie G. Hirsch

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Evaluation of geographic disparities in type 2 diabetes (T2D) onset requires multidimensional approaches at a relevant spatial scale to characterize community types and features that could influence this health outcome. Using Geisinger electronic health records (2008- 2016), we conducted a nested case-control study of new onset T2D in a 37-county area of Pennsylvania. The study included 15,888 incident T2D cases and 79,435 controls without diabetes, frequency-matched 1:5 on age, sex, and year of diagnosis or encounter. We characterized patients' residential census tracts by four dimensions of social determinants of health (SDOH) and into a 7-category SDOH census tract typology previously generated for the entire United States by dimension reduction techniques. Finally, because the SDOH census tract typology classified 83% of the study region's census tracts into two heterogeneous categories, termed rural affordable-like and suburban affluent-like, to further delineate geographies relevant to T2D, we subdivided these two typology categories by administrative community types (U.S. Census Bureau minor civil divisions of township, borough, city). We used generalized estimating equations to examine associations of 1) four SDOH indexes, 2) SDOH census tract typology, and 3) modified typology, with odds of new onset T2D, controlling for individual-level confounding variables. Two SDOH dimensions, higher socioeconomic advantage and higher mobility (tracts with fewer seniors and disabled adults) were independently associated with lower odds of T2D. Compared to rural affordable- like as the reference group, residence in tracts categorized as extreme poverty (odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 1.11 [1.02, 1.21]) or multilingual working (1.07 [1.03, 1.23]) were associated with higher odds of new onset T2D. Suburban affluent-like was associated with lower odds of T2D (0.92 [0.87, 0.97]). With the modified typology, the strongest association (1.37 [1.15, 1.63]) was observed in cities in the suburban affluent-like category (vs. rural affordable-like-township), followed by cities in the rural affordable-like category (1.20 [1.05, 1.36]). We conclude that in evaluating geographic disparities in T2D onset, it is beneficial to conduct simultaneous evaluation of SDOH in multiple dimensions. Associations with the modified typology showed the importance of incorporating governmentally, behaviorally, and experientially relevant community definitions when evaluating geographic health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0274758
JournalPloS one
Issue number9 September
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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