Thursday, March 3, 2016

New article by Lubetkin and Littenberg

Derek Lubetkin (former UVM Post-Bacc Emergency Medicine Research Assistant now a Tufts medical student) and Ben Littenberg (Professor of Medicine) just published this article.

Original Article
Availability, Strengths and Limitations of US State Driver’s License Data for Obesity Research
Benjamin Littenberg, Derek Lubetkin
Categories: Public Health, Environmental Health, Epidemiology/Public Health
Objectives: Driver’s license records in the United States typically contain age, sex, height, weight, and home address. By combining the body mass index (calculated from the reported height and weight) and address information, researchers can explore and quantify the relationships between obesity and specific environmental features surrounding the place of residence. We report here our experience obtaining those data and the current state of driver’s license data as an epidemiological resource.
Methods: The specific state agency responsible for maintaining driver’s license databases was contacted by email, phone, or both methods for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Results: Fourteen states with a combined population of 89.8 million people indicated they could provide a total of 73.3 million unique driver’s license (and non-driver identification) data records with address, height, weight, gender, and age, representing 82% of the population in these states. Four additional states will provide data with a zip code but not the street address. A total of 52.6 million unique analyzable records from seven states has been acquired and analyzed. Obesity is more prevalent among males and those living in less urbanized areas.
Conclusion: Driver’s licenses represent an underused resource for studying the geographic correlates of obesity and other public health issues.
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