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Clustering of social determinants of health among patients

Schiltz NK, Chagin K, Sehgal AR
J Prim Care Community Health

INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES: Many health systems screen patients for social determinants of health and refer patients with social needs to community organizations for assistance. Understanding how social determinants cluster together may help guide assistance programs. METHODS: This study examined patients screened by The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio for 9 social determinants, including food insecurity, financial strain, transportation limitations, inability to pay for housing or utilities, intimate partner violence, social isolation, infrequent physical activity, daily stress, and lack of internet access. Clustering analyses were performed to determine which combination of social determinants occurred together more often than would be expected if each determinant were independent of each other. RESULTS: Among 23‚ÄČ161 screened patients, there were 19 dyads, 13 triads, and one tetrad of social determinants that clustered together. The most prevalent triad of food insecurity, social isolation, and inability to pay for housing or utilities occurred among 1095 patients but would be expected to occur among 284 patients, for an observed/expected ratio of 3.85 (95% confidence interval 3.64-4.07). In multivariate analyses, younger, Black, and lower income patients were 2 to 3 times more likely to have this triad compared to older, White, and wealthier patients. CONCLUSIONS: Social determinants of health frequently cluster together, and such clustering is associated with patient demographic characteristics. Further work is needed to determine how social determinant clusters impact health and cost outcomes and to develop programs that can address multiple co-existing social needs.

Schiltz NK, Chagin K, Sehgal AR. Clustering of social determinants of health among patients J Prim Care Community Health. 2022 Jan-Dec;13:21501319221113543. DOI:10.1177/21501319221113543. PMID: 35861297

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Social Needs/ SDH
Social Determinant of Health
Economic Security
Housing Stability
Social Support/Social Isolation
Study design
Other Study Design