Mapping Census Tract Clusters of Type 2 Diabetes in a Primary Care Population

Published in Preventing Chronic Disease, 2019

Recommended citation: Kolak, M., Abraham, G. and Talen, M.R., 2019. Mapping Census Tract Clusters of Type 2 Diabetes in a Primary Care Population. Preventing chronic disease, 16.

Although much effort has been made by public health agencies to geographically plot chronic diseases at the national, state, and city levels, information is limited on how disease is distributed in smaller geographic areas or populations, such as a health center population (4). Our objective was to identify patterns of type 2 diabetes in a patient population of a large urban federally qualified health center by using census tracts as a proxy for neighborhoods. This approach expands on other longitudinal studies that found associations between rates of type 2 diabetes and neighborhood social and physical environment characteristics such as access to healthy foods (5–7). As public health data have become more available, the spatial analyses of disease prevalence at local levels using clinical records has emerged as a powerful population-based health tool (8,9). Adapting these best methodological practices to an individual health center may provide additional strategies for identifying localized areas of health risk for targeting interventions and improving care in a health center’s population. Ultimately, merging GIS (geographic information systems) capabilities with primary care patient panels is a novel approach to guide disease management strategies and community outreach in a local health care system.