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Healthcare sector activities to identify and intervene on social risk: An introduction to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine supplement

L.M. Gottlieb, K. Desalvo, N.E. Adler
Am J Prev Med

Heightened interest in social risks has resulted in active experimentation by the healthcare sector around clinic-based, patient-level social risk assessments; adoption of interventions to address identified social risks; and policy and payment initiatives that support both screening and interventions. Though the scientific community is working to advance evaluation in this area, the pace of innovation has outstripped the availability of published research to guide such efforts. Therefore, despite the strong evidence linking adverse social conditions to health outcomes, little is known about what the healthcare sector should do about them. The paucity of evidence has contributed to the lack of national policy agreement about the role of health care in improving social conditions.

The nine research papers in this supplement highlight relevant categories of research on the healthcare sector's social care–related activities. Taken together, they provide evidence relevant to how the healthcare sector is adopting clinic-based social risk screening, incorporating social care interventions, and developing new payment and policy models that can incentivize these activities. Perhaps even more importantly, they reveal specific evidence gaps in this field, underscoring that there is much more to be learned to maximize the impact of more intentionally integrated medical and social services.

Supplement information: This article is part of a supplement entitled Identifying and Intervening on Social Needs in Clinical Settings: Evidence and Evidence Gaps, which is sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kaiser Permanente, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Gottlieb LM, DeSalvo K, Adler NE. Healthcare sector activities to identify and intervene on social risk: an introduction to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine supplement. Am J Prev Med. 2019;57(6):S1-S5. DOI:

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