A GIS Approach to Identifying Socially and Medically Vulnerable Older Adult Populations in South Florida

Elizabeth Hames, Justin Stoler, Christopher T. Emrich, Sweta Tewary, Naushira Pandya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose of the Study: We define, map, and analyze geodemographic patterns of socially and medically vulnerable older adults within the tri-county region of South Florida. Design and Methods: We apply principal components analysis (PCA) to a set of previously identified indicators of social and medical vulnerability at the census tract level. We create and map age-stratified vulnerability scores using a geographic information system (GIS), and use spatial analysis techniques to identify patterns and interactions between social and medical vulnerability. Results: Key factors contributing to social vulnerability in areas with higher numbers of older adults include age, large household size, and Hispanic ethnicity. Medical vulnerability in these same areas is driven by disease burden, access to emergency cardiac services, availability of nursing home and hospice beds, access to home health care, and available mental health services. Age-dependent areas of social vulnerability emerge in Broward County, whereas age-dependent areas of medical vulnerability emerge in Palm Beach County. Older-adult social and medical vulnerability interact differently throughout the study area. Implications: Spatial analysis of older adult social and medical vulnerability using PCA and GIS can help identify agedependent pockets of vulnerability that are not easily identifiable in a populationwide analysis; improve our understanding of the dynamic spatial organization of health care, health care needs, access to care, and outcomes; and ultimately serve as a tool for health care planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1133-1141
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • GIS
  • Health care access
  • Medical vulnerability
  • Social vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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