HealthDay News — Children from neighborhoods with a low Child Opportunity Index (COI) have higher emergency department use overall, and particularly more visits that could be managed in primary care, according to a study published online Sept. 2 in Pediatrics.
Sunitha V. Kaiser, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues used data from 49 U.S. children’s hospitals to assess emergency department visits in children ages 0 to 17 years from 2018 through 2019 (6.8 million visits by 4.0 million children).
The researchers found that low-resource intensity (LRI) visits (no laboratories, imaging, procedures, or admission) were more likely among children from very low COI neighborhoods versus very high COI neighborhoods (odds ratios, 1.35, 1.97, and 2.4 for one LRI visit, at least two LRI visits, and at least three LRI visits, respectively). Any emergency department utilization was more likely among children from very low versus very high COI neighborhoods (odds ratios, 1.73 and 2.22 for at least two LRI visits and at least three LRI visits, respectively). In contrast, the risk for hospital admission from the emergency department was lower for children from very low versus very high COI neighborhoods (odds ratio, 0.77).
“Identifying neighborhood opportunity-related drivers can help us design interventions to optimize child health and decrease unnecessary emergency department utilization and costs,” the authors write.