Original Research Article| Volume 225, ISSUE 1, P122-128, January 2023

Social vulnerability index (SVI) and poor postoperative outcomes in children undergoing surgery in California

Published:September 26, 2022DOI:


      • Children from high SVI areas more likely suffer serious postoperative complications.
      • SVI's effect on children's surgery persist after adjusting for individual level SDoH.
      • Area-based social determinants of health are linked to pediatric surgical disparities.



      Area-based social determinants of health (SDoH) associated with disparities in children's surgical outcomes are not well understood, though some may be risk factors modifiable by public health interventions.


      This retrospective cohort study investigated the effect of high social vulnerability index (SVI), defined as ≥90th percentile, on postoperative outcomes in children classified as ASA 1–2 who underwent surgery at a large institution participating in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (2015–2021). Primary outcome was serious postoperative complications, defined as postoperative death, unplanned re-operation, or readmission at 30 days after surgery.


      Among 3278 pediatric surgical procedures, 12.1% had SVI in the ≥90th percentile. Controlling for age, sex, racialization, insurance status, and language preference, serious postoperative complications were associated with high overall SVI (odds ratio [OR] 1.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02–2.44) and high socioeconomic vulnerability (SVI theme 1, OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.03–2.98).


      Neighborhood-level socioeconomic vulnerability is associated with worse surgical outcomes in apparently healthy children, which could serve as a target for community-based intervention.


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