Using electronic health record data for environmental and place based population health research: a systematic review.
Schinasi LH, Auchincloss AH, Forrest CB, Diez Roux AV.
We conducted a systematic review of literature published on January 2000-May 2017 that spatially linked electronic health record (EHR) data with environmental information for population health research.
We abstracted information on the environmental and health outcome variables and the methods and data sources used.
The automated search yielded 669 articles; 128 articles are included in the full review. The number of articles increased by publication year; the majority (80%) were from the United States, and the mean sample size was approximately 160,000. Most articles used cross-sectional (44%) or longitudinal (40%) designs. Common outcomes were health care utilization (32%), cardiometabolic conditions/obesity (23%), and asthma/respiratory conditions (10%). Common environmental variables were sociodemographic measures (42%), proximity to medical facilities (15%), and built environment and land use (13%). The most common spatial identifiers were administrative units (59%), such as census tracts. Residential addresses were also commonly used to assign point locations, or to calculate distances or buffer areas.
Future research should include more detailed descriptions of methods used to geocode addresses, focus on a broader array of health outcomes, and describe linkage methods. Studies should also explore using longitudinal residential address histories to evaluate associations between time-varying environmental variables and health outcomes.