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Health centres and social determinants of health: An analysis of enabling services provision and clinical quality

Topmiller M, McCann J, Hoang H, Rankin J, Grandmont J, Pelzer M, Sripipatana A
Fam Med Community Health

OBJECTIVE: It is well known that social determinants of health (SDOH), including poverty, education, transportation and housing, are important predictors of health outcomes. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-funded health centres serve a patient population with high vulnerability to barriers posed by SDOH and are required to provide services that enable health centre service utilisation and assist patients in navigating barriers to care. This study explores whether health centres with higher percentages of patients using these enabling services experience better clinical performance and outcomes. DESIGN AND SETTING: The analysis uses organisational characteristics, patient demographics and clinical quality measures from HRSA's 2018 Uniform Data System. Health centres (n=875) were sorted into quartiles with quartile 1 (Q1) representing the lowest utilisation of enabling services and quartile 4 (Q4) representing the highest. The researchers calculated a service area social deprivation score weighted by the number of patients for each health centre and used ordinary least squares to create adjusted values for each of the clinical quality process and outcome measures. Analysis of variance was used to test differences across enabling services quartiles. RESULTS: After adjusting for patient characteristics, health centre size and social deprivation, authors found statistically significant differences for all clinical quality process measures across enabling services quartiles, with Q4 health centres performing significantly better than Q1 health centres for several clinical process measures. However, these Q4 health centres performed poorer in outcome measures, including blood pressure and haemoglobin A1c control. CONCLUSION: These findings emphasise the importance of how enabling services (eg, translation services, transportation) can address unmet social needs, improve utilisation of health services and reaffirm the challenges inherent in overcoming SDOH to improve health outcomes.

Topmiller M, McCann J, Hoang H, et al. Health centres and social determinants of health: an analysis of enabling services provision and clinical quality. Fam Med Community Health. 2023;11(3). DOI:10.1136/fmch-2023-002227. PMID: 37775110

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Publication year
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Peer Reviewed Research
Health & Health Behaviors
Social Determinant of Health
Housing Stability
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Other Study Design