Associations Between Natural Language Processing (NLP) Enriched Social Determinants of Health and Suicide Death among US Veterans

by   Avijit Mitra, et al.

Importance: Social determinants of health (SDOH) are known to be associated with increased risk of suicidal behaviors, but few studies utilized SDOH from unstructured electronic health record (EHR) notes. Objective: To investigate associations between suicide and recent SDOH, identified using structured and unstructured data. Design: Nested case-control study. Setting: EHR data from the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Participants: 6,122,785 Veterans who received care in the US VHA between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2015. Exposures: Occurrence of SDOH over a maximum span of two years compared with no occurrence of SDOH. Main Outcomes and Measures: Cases of suicide deaths were matched with 4 controls on birth year, cohort entry date, sex, and duration of follow-up. We developed an NLP system to extract SDOH from unstructured notes. Structured data, NLP on unstructured data, and combining them yielded seven, eight and nine SDOH respectively. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95 intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression. Results: In our cohort, 8,821 Veterans committed suicide during 23,725,382 person-years of follow-up (incidence rate 37.18 /100,000 person-years). Our cohort was mostly male (92.23 as covariates, NLP-extracted SDOH, on average, covered 84.38 occurrences. All SDOH, measured by structured data and NLP, were significantly associated with increased risk of suicide. The SDOH with the largest effects was legal problems (aOR=2.67, 95 (aOR=2.26, 95 associated with suicide. Conclusions and Relevance: NLP-extracted SDOH were always significantly associated with increased risk of suicide among Veterans, suggesting the potential of NLP in public health studies.


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