Looking for a way to predict whether children will need to be readmitted to the hospital?
Try their address.
A new study appearing in the American Journal of Public Health says knowing a child's address – as well as some of her or his socioeconomic data – can help hospitals predict whether kids admitted for asthma treatment will be readmitted or need more visits to the emergency room.
Researchers used what they called a "geographic social risk index" which took into account poverty, home values and parents' education levels and used that information to identify families who were likely to report financial or psychological hardship, both of which exacerbate asthma.
We recently wrote about how home values in South Los Angeles are on the low-end, especially when compared to the nation's most expensive zip code, 10065 in New York City.
Far from property listings starting at $40 million (which is the price tag for one prospective townhouse in Manhattan), the southside is more familiar with property worth less than $200,000. Some folks in Historic South-Central – about 3 percent, in fact – live in property worth less $50,000.
As for poverty, the Los Angeles Times' Mapping L.A. project says around 41 percent of South L.A. households make less than $20,000 a year. Education doesn't look much better: Nearly 53 percent of area residents who are 25 or older don't have their high school diploma.
Researchers are hoping health providers will use this geographic social risk index to target more aggressive care campaigns and interventions to populations who are more at-risk, both for asthma and other conditions. The study's authors found that high-risk children – that is, poor, urban and minority youth – were a whopping 80 percent more likely to re-hospitalized or to make another visit to the ER.
The new findings lend even more credence to the notion that where you live has a profound impact on how you feel.
Photo by Alex E. Proimos via Flickr Creative Commons.