Does a Child's Neighborhood Affect Their Chances of Hospitalization?

Does a Child's Neighborhood Affect Their Chances of Hospitalization?

Recent studies confirm the major influence of social and community factors on children’s health.

The neighborhood a child lives in affects their risk of hospitalization, according to a recent study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. Researchers compared hospitalization rates against the Child Opportunity Index (COI), a multidimensional measure of neighborhood resources and conditions assigned at the ZIP-code level.

Children in very low COI neighborhoods experience more than 60,000 excess hospitalizations annually in the 18 included states. As COI improves, the overall hospitalization rate for children decreases. This trend holds true across seven individual diagnosis groups. 

“Our findings support a link between neighborhood opportunity and hospitalizations for common conditions, underscoring the importance of community investment to optimize children’s health and well-being,” said Matt Hall, PhD, principal biostatistician at Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). The research, conducted by CHA’s Policy Research Group, confirms previous findings but is the first population-based analysis of pediatric hospitalizations.

One solution

Another recent study by CHA’s Policy Research Group found an association between spending on public benefit programs and adverse childhood experiences (ACE), which are strongly associated with poor health outcomes and premature mortality. The more a state spends on public health benefits, the fewer ACEs. Each $1,000 increase per person living in poverty was associated with a 4% decrease in the odds of a child experiencing more than four ACEs. 

Beyond hospital walls

Children’s hospitals routinely invest in the communities they serve, including far-reaching rural areas. Community benefits are varied and tailored to individual communities, including housing remediation, financial mentorship, environmental services, food clinics, legal services, and more.

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