A spatial analysis of the determinants of pneumonia and influenza hospitalizations in Ontario (1992–2001)
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Previous research on the determinants of pneumonia and influenza has focused primarily on the role of individual level biological and behavioural risk factors resulting in partial explanations and largely curative approaches to reducing the disease burden. This study examines the geographic patterns of pneumonia and influenza hospitalizations and the role that broad ecologic-level factors may have in determining them. We conducted a county level, retrospective, ecologic study of pneumonia and influenza hospitalizations in the province of Ontario, Canada, between 1992 and 2001 (N=241,803), controlling for spatial dependence in the data. Non-spatial and spatial regression models were estimated using a range of environmental, social, economic, behavioural, and health care predictors. Results revealed low education to be positively associated with hospitalization rates over all age groups and both genders. The Aboriginal population variable was also positively associated in most models except for the 65+-year age group. Behavioural factors (daily smoking and heavy drinking), environmental factors (passive smoking, poor housing, temperature), and health care factors (influenza vaccination) were all significantly associated in different age and gender-specific models. The use of spatial error regression models allowed for unbiased estimation of regression parameters and their significance levels. These findings demonstrate the importance of broad age and gender-specific population-level factors in determining pneumonia and influenza hospitalizations, and illustrate the need for place and population-specific policies that take these factors into consideration.
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