BACKGROUND Neighborhood-level socioeconomic disadvantage has wide-ranging impacts on health outcomes, particularly in older adults. Although indices of disadvantage are a widely used tool, research conducted to date has not codified a set of standard variables that should be included in these indices for the United States. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of literature describing the construction of geographic indices of neighborhood-level disadvantage and to summarize and distill the key variables included in these indices. We also sought to demonstrate the utility of these indices for understanding neighborhood-level disadvantage in older adults.METHODS We conducted a systematic review of existing indices in the English-language literature.RESULTS We identified 6021 articles, of which 130 met final study inclusion criteria. Our review identified 7 core domains across the surveyed papers, including income, education, housing, employment, neighborhood structure, demographic makeup, and health. Although not universally present, the most prevalent variables included in these indices were education and employment.CONCLUSION Identifying these 7 core domains is a key finding of this review. These domains should be considered for inclusion in future neighborhood-level disadvantage indices, and at least 5 domains are recommended to improve the strength of the resulting index. Targeting specific domains offers a path forward toward the construction of a new US-specific index of neighborhood disadvantage with health policy applications. Such an index will be especially useful for characterizing the life-course impact of lived disadvantage in older adults.
William R. Buckingham, Lauren Bishop, Christopher Hooper-Lane, Brittany Anderson, Jessica Wolfson, Stephanie Shelton, Amy J.H. Kind