The Influence of Social Determinants of Health on Emergency Departments Visits in a Medicaid Sample

Melissa L. McCarthy, Zhaonian Zheng, Marcee E. Wilder, Angelo Elmi, Yixuan Li, Scott L. Zeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Study objective: We evaluate the relationship between social determinants of health and emergency department (ED) visits in the Medicaid Cohort of the District of Columbia. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of 8,943 adult Medicaid beneficiaries who completed a social determinants of health survey at study enrollment. We merged the social determinants of health data with participants’ Medicaid claims data for up to 24 months before enrollment. Using latent class analysis, we grouped our participants into 4 distinct social risk classes based on similar responses to the social determinants of health questions. We classified ED visits as primary care treatable or ED care needed, using the Minnesota algorithm. We calculated the adjusted log relative primary care treatable and ED care needed visit rates among the social risk classes by using generalized linear mixed-effects models. Results: The majority (71%) of the 49,111 ED visits made by the 8,943 participants were ED care needed. The adjusted log relative rate of both primary care treatable and ED care needed visit rates increased with each higher (worse) social risk class compared with the lowest class. Participants in the highest social risk class (ie, unemployed and many social risks) had a log relative primary care treatable and ED care needed rate of 39% (range 28% to 50%) and 29% (range 21% to 38%), respectively, adjusted for age, sex, and illness severity. Conclusion: There is a strong relationship between social determinants of health and ED utilization in this Medicaid sample that is worth investigating in other Medicaid samples and patient populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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