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Health-related social needs information in the emergency department: Clinician and patient perspectives on availability and use

Mazurenko O, Hirsh AT, Harle CA, McNamee C, Vest JR
BMC Emerg Med

BACKGROUND: Patient health-related social needs (HRSN) complicate care and drive poor outcomes in emergency department (ED) settings. This study sought to understand what HRSN information is available to ED physicians and staff, and how HRSN-related clinical actions may or may not align with patient expectations.

METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study using in-depth semi-structured interviews guided by HRSN literature, the 5 Rights of Clinical Decision Support (CDS) framework, and the Contextual Information Model. We asked ED providers, ED staff, and ED patients from one health system in the mid-Western United Stated about HRSN information availability during an ED encounter, HRSN data collection, and HRSN data use. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using modified thematic approach.

RESULTS: We conducted 24 interviews (8 per group: ED providers, ED staff, and ED patients) from December 2022 to May 2023. We identified three themes: (1) Availability: ED providers and staff reported that HRSNs information is inconsistently available. The availability of HRSN data is influenced by patient willingness to disclose it during an encounter. (2) Collection: ED providers and staff preferred and predominantly utilized direct conversation with patients to collect HRSNs, despite other methods being available to them (e.g., chart review, screening questionnaires). Patients' disclosure preferences were based on modality and team member. (3) Use: Patients wanted to be connected to relevant resources to address their HRSNs. Providers and staff altered clinical care to account for or accommodate HRSNs. System-level challenges (e.g., limited resources) limited provider and staff ability to address patients HRSNs.

CONCLUSIONS: In the ED, HRSNs information was inconsistently available, collected, or disclosed. Patients and ED providers and staff differed in their perspectives on how HSRNs should be collected and acted upon. Accounting for such difference in clinical and administrative decisions will be critical for patient acceptance and effective usage of HSRN information.

Mazurenko O, Hirsh AT, Harle CA, McNamee C, Vest JR. Health-related social needs information in the emergency department: clinician and patient perspectives on availability and use. BMC Emerg Med. 2024;24(1):45. DOI:10.1186/s12873-024-00959-2. PMID: 38500019

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Social Needs/ SDH
Patient Experience of Care
Provider Experience of Care
Screening research
Social Determinant of Health
Not Specified
Study design
Other Study Design