• An ecological approach to monitor geographic disparities in cancer outcomes

      Jayasekera, Jinani; Onukwugha, Eberechukwu; Cadham, Christopher; Harrington, Donna; Pradel, Francoise; Naslund, Michael (Public Library of Science, 2019-06-01)
      Background Area-level indices are widely used to assess the impact of socio-environmental characteristics on cancer outcomes. While area-level measures of socioeconomic status (SES) have been previously used in cancer settings, fewer studies have focused on evaluating the impact of area-level health services supply (HSS) characteristics on cancer outcomes. Moreover, there is significant variation in the methods and constructs used to create area-level indices. Methods In this study, we introduced a psychometrically-induced, reproducible approach to develop area-level HSS and SES indices. We assessed the utility of these indices in detecting the effects of area-level characteristics on prostate, breast, and lung cancer incidence and stage at diagnosis in the US. The information on county-level SES and HSS characteristics were extracted from US Census, County Business Patterns data and Area Health Resource Files. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database was used to identify individuals diagnosed with cancer from 2010 to 2012. SES and HSS indices were developed and linked to 3-year age-adjusted cancer incidence rates. SES and HSS indices empirically summarized the level of employment, education, poverty and income, and the availability of health care facilities and health professionals within counties. Results SES and HSS models demonstrated good fit (TLI = 0.98 and 0.96, respectively) and internal consistency (alpha = 0.85 and 0.95, respectively). Increasing SES and HSS were associated with increasing prostate and breast cancer and decreasing lung cancer incidence rates. The results varied by stage at diagnosis and race. Conclusion Composite county-level measures of SES and HSS were effective in ranking counties and detecting gradients in cancer incidence and stage at diagnosis. Thus, these measures provide valuable tools for monitoring geographic disparities in cancer outcomes. © 2019 Jayasekera et al.