Estimating an individual-level deprivation index for HIV/HCV coinfected persons in Canada Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background HIV-HCV coinfected individuals are often more deprived than the general population. However, deprivation is difficult to measure, often relying on aggregate data which does not capture individual heterogeneity. We developed an individual-level deprivation index for HIV-HCV co-infected persons that encapsulated social, material, and lifestyle factors. Methods We estimated an individual-level deprivation index with data from the Canadian Coinfection Cohort, a national prospective cohort study. We used a predetermined process to select 9 out of 19 dichotomous variables at baseline visit to include in the deprivation model: income >$1500/month; education >high school; employment; identifying as gay or bisexual; Indigenous status; injection drug use in last 6 months; injection drug use ever; past incarceration, and past psychiatric hospitalization. We fitted an item response theory model with: severity parameters (how likely an item was reported), discriminatory parameters, (how well a variable distinguished index levels), and an individual parameter (the index). We considered two models: a simple one with no provincial variation and a hierarchical model by province. The Widely Applicable Information Criterion (WAIC) was used to compare the fitted models. To showcase a potential utility of the proposed index, we evaluated with logistic regression the association of the index with non-attendance to a second clinic visit (as a proxy for disengagement) and using WAIC compared it to a model containing all the individual parameters that compose the index as covariates. Results We analyzed 1547 complete cases of 1842 enrolled participants. According to the WAIC the hierarchical model provided a better fit when compared to the model that does not consider the individual’s province. Values of the index were similarly distributed across the provinces. Overall, past incarceration, education, and unemployment had the highest discriminatory parameters. However, in each province different components of the index were associated with being deprived reflecting local epidemiology. For example, Saskatchewan had the highest severity parameter for Indigenous status while Quebec the lowest. For the secondary analysis, 457 (30%) failed to attend a second visit. A one-unit increase in the index was associated with 17% increased odds (95% credible interval, 2% to 34%) of not attending a second visit. The model with just the index performed better than the model with all the components as covariates in terms of WAIC. Conclusion We estimated an individual-level deprivation index in the Canadian Coinfection cohort. The index identified deprivation profiles across different provinces. This index and the methodology used may be useful in studying health and treatment outcomes that are influenced by social disparities in co-infected Canadians. The methodological approach described can be used in other studies with similar characteristics.


  • Haider, Shariq
  • Palayew, Adam
  • Schmidt, Alexandra M
  • Saeed, Sahar
  • Cooper, Curtis L
  • Wong, Alexander
  • Martel-Laferrière, Valérie
  • Walmsley, Sharon
  • Cox, Joseph
  • Klein, Marina B

publication date

  • 2021