Social Determinants of Severe Injury among Pediatric Patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Exploratory Study

With injuries being the leading cause of mortality among children under 18 in the United States, a recent exploratory study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care sought to identify the social determinants of health (SDH) patterns associated with severe pediatric injuries. The study found that considering patterns of adverse social determinants of health that families experience rather than isolated SDH provides more significant insights into potential prevention strategies for severe pediatric injury.

For the study, the team distributed a questionnaire before patients were discharged from a trauma center to measure SDH patterns. Factors such as food insecurity, financial instability, health care access issues and more were included, understanding that non-medical issues can influence an individual’s health. The study team was able to score the questionnaires using the presence or absence of each negative SDH. Nearly 70% of caregivers identified at least one SDH. Financial instability was the most prevalent negative SDH, followed by childcare needs and food insecurity.

Prior research in this field has identified several social and material factors often associated with severe childhood injuries. The current study identified two key SDH patterns associated with severe pediatric injury during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic: childcare needs combined with neighborhood violence and lack of caregiver health insurance.

“Before this study, it was unclear which negative social determinants of health interrelate to increase pediatric injury risk. The findings suggest that considering patterns of SDH that families experience rather than isolated SDH provides greater insights into potential prevention strategies for severe pediatric injury,” said Rebeccah L. Sokol, PhD, coauthor of the article.

The article, “Social Determinants of Severe Injury among Pediatric Patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Exploratory Study,” was published in the November/December edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed here.

Nov. 21, 2022

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