Honors College
 

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Abstract

Nationally, Maine is the state with the second highest incidence of Lyme disease. While the spread of Lyme disease is generally attributable to ecological factors that affect the life cycle of Lyme-spreading ticks, socioeconomic factors may have substantial impacts on diagnosis and reporting of human cases. Socioeconomic factors could influence one’s ability to see a healthcare provider and ultimately be diagnosed with and treated for Lyme. Additionally, access to and treatment within the healthcare system is often gendered. I hypothesize that certain socioeconomic factors will have a negative correlation with Lyme disease incidence among the general population and among women, and that other socioeconomic factors will have a positive correlation, depending on how they promote or inhibit healthcare access. Ordinary Least Squares regression analyses were performed to determine significant socioeconomic factors that correlate with patterns of Lyme disease incidence in 411 zip codes across 10 counties in southern Maine, an endemic area for Lyme disease transmission. Geographically Weighted Regression analyses were performed to understand how these relationships varied spatially. Total family income, per capita income, percent of the population with public health insurance, and percent of the population that speaks a language other than English all have significant correlations with overall Lyme incidence. Percent of the population with any health insurance has a significant correlation with the percentage of Lyme disease cases that are women. Conclusions from this work could inform public health departments, schools, insurers, and healthcare providers about which populations are most at risk for Lyme disease.

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