Objectives: Social determinants of health (SDOH) are associated with type 1 diabetes (T1D) outcomes. Patient portal (PP) use can improve care quality. Therefore, equitable PP access is essential. Associations between SDOH and PP access have not been reported in pediatric T1D. The purpose of this study was to determine whether PP access and use are associated with SDOH in pediatric T1D.
Methods: This work was a cross-sectional study of patients <18 years of age with T1D who were seen in a diabetes clinic at a tertiary care centre between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Patient postal code, PP activation status and use, and characteristics were collected from electronic health records on April 1, 2021. SDOH were assessed using patient postal code linked to the Ontario Marginalization Index (ON-Marg) to determine quintile score across 4 dimensions of deprivation. Statistical analysis tested for an association between PP activation status and ON-Marg quintile.
Results: Data were obtained for 634 patients with a mean age of 12.8±3.8 years; 53% were male and mean glycated hemoglobin was 8.4±2.0%. In the last year, 334 patients (53%) were PP active and 332 (52%) used the PP. The odds of inactive PP status were higher for those with the highest degree of material deprivation (odds ratio [OR], 2.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.62 to 5.36) and residential instability (OR, 3.49; 95% CI, 1.86 to 6.70). PP activation status was not associated with dependency or ethnic concentration.
Conclusions: In our pediatric T1D population, inactive PP status is associated with greater material deprivation and residential instability. How these factors impact PP activation and how to improve equitable access requires further study.