Perceptions and experience of patients, staff, and clinicians with social needs assessment

Perm J

Context: Assessment of social needs is expanding at Kaiser Permanente (KP), but little is known about how members and clinicians experience the incorporation of social needs into health care.

Objective: To assess how KP members and clinicians experience social needs assessments incorporated into care.

Design: Qualitative and descriptive analysis of data from member and clinician focus groups, interviews, and surveys among 68 members and family caregivers who had participated in social needs assessment programs and 90 clinicians and staff in the KP Colorado, Georgia, Northern California, Northwest, and Southern California Regions.

Main Outcome Measures: Members' and clinicians' perceptions and experiences of social needs assessment.

Results: Members and clinicians understood the impact of social needs on health and why a health care system representative would ask about food, housing, transportation, and other social needs. Members and clinicians supported social needs assessment at KP and agreed that KP should help address identified social needs. However, both groups emphasized the importance of assessments yielding actionable information. Members were also concerned about how the information would be used and by whom.

Conclusion: Our findings support the continuing assessment of social needs at KP and identify issues that require attention as it expands. Assessment should not outpace organizational capacity to connect members with resources. Careful attention to communications is required because members may be uncertain or concerned about the purpose of the assessment and the dissemination of sensitive information. Messaging should assure members about data use and dissemination and what they can expect after screening.


Hamity C, Jackson A, Peralta L, Bellows J. Perceptions and experience of patients, staff, and clinicians with social needs assessment. Perm J. 2018;22. PMID: 30285914. DOI: 10.7812/TPP/18-105.

Publication Year: 
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Economic Security
Health Care Access
Housing Quality
Social Support/Social Isolation
Social Needs/ SDH
Patient Experience of Care
Provider Experience of Care
Screening Research: