Identifying Relative Changes in Social Risk Factors: An Analytic Approach.


BACKGROUND: Individuals often report concurrent social risk factors such as food insecurity, unstable housing, and transportation barriers. Comparing relative changes between pairs of social risk factors may identify those that are more resistant to change.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to develop a method to describe relative changes in pairs of social risk factors.

RESEARCH DESIGN: This was a prospective cohort study.

SUBJECTS: Participants in a randomized controlled trial of hypertension care in an Urban Indian Health Organization.

MEASURES: We measured 7 social risk factors (housing, transportation, food, clothing, health care, utilities, and debts) at enrollment, 6, and 12 months among 295 participants in the trial. We hypothesized that pairwise comparisons could identify social risk factors that were less likely to change over time. We used conditional odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to rank each pair.

RESULTS: Food, clothing, health care, utilities, and debts had more changes between 0 and 6 months relative to housing (OR=2.3, 3.4, 4.7, 3.5, and 3.4, respectively; all 95% CI excluded 1.0). These same social risk factors also had more changes between baseline and 6 months relative to transportation (OR=2.8, 3.4, 4.9, 4.7, and 4.1, respectively; all 95% CI excluded 1.0). Changes in housing and transportation risk factors were comparable (OR=0.7, 95% CI: 0.4-1.4). Relative changes between 6 and 12 months were similar.

CONCLUSIONS: Housing and transportation exhibited fewer relative changes than other social risk factors and might be more resistant to change. Awareness of the relationships between social risk factors can help define priorities for intervention.

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Medical care

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