The diabetes location, environmental attributes, and disparities network: Protocol for nested case control and cohort studies, rationale, and baseline characteristics

Annemarie G. Hirsch, April P. Carson, Nora L. Lee, Tara McAlexander, Carla Mercado, Karen Siegel, Nyesha C. Black, Brian Elbel, D. Leann Long, Priscilla Lopez, Leslie A. McClure, Melissa N. Poulsen, Brian S. Schwartz, Lorna E. Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Diabetes prevalence and incidence vary by neighborhood socioeconomic environment (NSEE) and geographic region in the United States. Identifying modifiable community factors driving type 2 diabetes disparities is essential to inform policy interventions that reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Objective: This paper aims to describe the Diabetes Location, Environmental Attributes, and Disparities (LEAD) Network, a group funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to apply harmonized epidemiologic approaches across unique and geographically expansive data to identify community factors that contribute to type 2 diabetes risk. Methods: The Diabetes LEAD Network is a collaboration of 3 study sites and a data coordinating center (Drexel University). The Geisinger and Johns Hopkins University study population includes 578,485 individuals receiving primary care at Geisinger, a health system serving a population representative of 37 counties in Pennsylvania. The New York University School of Medicine study population is a baseline cohort of 6,082,146 veterans who do not have diabetes and are receiving primary care through Veterans Affairs from every US county. The University of Alabama at Birmingham study population includes 11,199 participants who did not have diabetes at baseline from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, a cohort study with oversampling of participants from the Stroke Belt region. Results: The Network has established a shared set of aims: evaluate mediation of the association of the NSEE with type 2 diabetes onset, evaluate effect modification of the association of NSEE with type 2 diabetes onset, assess the differential item functioning of community measures by geographic region and community type, and evaluate the impact of the spatial scale used to measure community factors. The Network has developed standardized approaches for measurement. Conclusions: The Network will provide insight into the community factors driving geographical disparities in type 2 diabetes risk and disseminate findings to stakeholders, providing guidance on policies to ameliorate geographic disparities in type 2 diabetes in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere21377
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Built environment
  • Disparities
  • Social environment
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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