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Public Health


Background: Measures of small-area deprivation may be valuable in geographically targeting limited resources to prevent, diagnose, and effectively manage chronic conditions in vulnerable populations. We developed a census-based small-area socioeconomic deprivation index specifically to predict chronic disease burden among publically insured Medicaid recipients in South Carolina, a relatively poor state in the southern United States. We compared the predictive ability of the new index with that of four other small-area deprivation indicators. Methods: To derive the ZIP Code Tabulation Area-Level Palmetto Small-Area Deprivation Index (Palmetto SADI), we evaluated ten census variables across five socioeconomic deprivation domains, identifying the combination of census indicators most highly correlated with a set of five chronic disease conditions among South Carolina Medicaid enrollees. In separate validation studies, we used both logistic and spatial regression methods to assess the ability of Palmetto SADI to predict chronic disease burden among state Medicaid recipients relative to four alternative small-area socioeconomic deprivation measures: the Townsend index of material deprivation; a single-variable poverty indicator; and two small-area designations of health care resource deprivation, Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Area and Medically Underserved Area/Medically Underserved Population. Results: Palmetto SADI was the best predictor of chronic disease burden (presence of at least one condition and presence of two or more conditions) among state Medicaid recipients compared to all alternative deprivation measures tested. Conclusions: A low-cost, regionally optimized socioeconomic deprivation index, Palmetto SADI can be used to identify areas in South Carolina at high risk for chronic disease burden among Medicaid recipients and other low-income Medicaid-eligible populations for targeted prevention, screening, diagnosis, disease self-management, and care coordination activities

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APA Citation

Lòpez-De Fede., Stewart, J. E., Hardin, J. W., & Mayfield-Smith, K. (2016). Comparison of small-area deprivation measures as predictors of chronic disease burden in a low-income population. International Journal for Equity in Health, 15(1), 1-12.


© 2016 The Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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