DOI: 10.1002/lary.30982 ISSN:

Socioeconomic Barriers to Care for Pediatric Airways Utilizing Geographic Information Systems

Mark A. Fadel, Jennifer L. McCoy, Amber D. Shaffer, Kristen S. Kurland, Jeffrey P. Simons
  • Otorhinolaryngology


Geographic information systems (GIS) provide a unique set of tools to spatially analyze health care and identify patterns of health outcomes to help optimize delivery. Our goal is to create maps of pediatric tracheostomy patients using GIS to assess socioeconomic and other factors that impact postoperative care after discharge to home.


A retrospective study was performed on patients (≤21 years old) who underwent tracheostomy at a tertiary care pediatric hospital from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2020. Using GIS, we geocoded patient addresses and conducted spatial analyses of the relationship between patients and access to health care providers as well as vulnerable population factors including poverty, educational attainment, and single‐parent households.


A total of 156 patients were included. Patients initially discharged to transitional care (108/156, 69.2%) had significantly higher likelihood of presenting to the ED regardless of socioeconomic status (OR: 2.28, 95% CI: 1.03–5.05; p = 0.042). There was no relationship between ED visit rate and median household income, poverty level, and percentage of uneducated adults (p = 0.490; p = 0.424; p = 0.752). Median distance to the tertiary care pediatric hospital was significantly longer for patients with no ED visit (median = 61.28 miles; SD = 50.90) compared with those with an ED visit (median = 37.75 miles; SD = 35.92) (p = 0.002).


The application of GIS could provide geo‐localized data to better understand the healthcare barriers to access for children with tracheostomies. This study uniquely integrates medical record data with socioeconomic factors and social determinants of health.

Level of Evidence

4 Laryngoscope, 2023

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