CDC Expands U.S. Diabetes Surveillance System with new Social Determinants of Health Module | site |


New tool identifies Diabetes-Related Health Disparities


(Information contained in CDC press release: November 17, 2020)

The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded the U.S. Diabetes Surveillance System with a new social determinants of health (SDOH) module to help identify under-resourced areas of the United States and assess the potential impact of health disparities on diabetes burden and risk factors.

The expanded U.S. Diabetes Surveillance System now overlays diabetes data with 15 social vulnerability variables. The SDOH module gives public health professionals and researchers a more complete look at factors potentially impacting people’s ability to successfully manage diabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes around the U.S.

Data are available at the national level to compare counties across states and at the state level to compare counties within a state. The module currently includes data for 2018. In the coming months, data for 2010, 2014, and 2016 will be included.

“We know that a range of factors can impact people’s ability to successfully prevent type 2 diabetes and manage diabetes,” said Ann Albright, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “The impact of poverty, education, geography, access to care and healthy food, transportation, and many other factors continue to have a profound effect on diabetes and other chronic conditions in the U.S. We hope that this new tool helps researchers and public health professionals identify and better align available resources to address the needs of people at risk for or living with diabetes in communities across the country.”

In the United States, 34.2 million Americans — just over 1 in 10 — have diabetes. Diabetes affects some groups of people more than others. Differences in health status or access to health care among racial, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic groups may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes or diabetes complications.

“Social determinants of health play a significant role in influencing a person’s ability to successfully prevent type 2 diabetes or manage diabetes and prevent dangerous and costly complications,” said Leandris Liburd, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Equity. “Adding social variables to our surveillance systems provides valuable context that can help public health officials better plan and understand community needs. This can accelerate and strengthen how we respond to both chronic and infectious diseases, help communities better prepare for emergency events, and reduce health disparities.”

Researchers used data from CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s Geospatial Research, Analysis & Services Program (GRASP) to assign a social vulnerability index (SVI) to help identify communities with limited resources. Research shows that interventions that improve socio-environmental conditions can lead to better health and reduce health disparities. CDC’s SVI can help public health officials better plan for and understand community needs, including emergency events.

Based on census data, the SVI includes four central themes:
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Household Composition and Disability
  • Minority Status and Language
  • Housing Type and Transportation

As more data become available, researchers will include information on food insecurity, healthy food, community walkability, air quality, health insurance, and other factors.

For more information, visit https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/diabetes/DiabetesAtlas.html .