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Innovations in social health delivery to advance equitable pediatric and adolescent life course health development: A review and roadmap forward

Liu PY, Spiker S, Holguin M, Schickedanz A
Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care

Recognizing the influence of social determinants on health and development, health care has increasingly advocated for interventions that target upstream factors as part of routine pediatric care delivery. In response, clinic-based social risk screening and referral programs have proliferated wherein patients are screened for health-related social needs (HRSNs, such as food and housing insecurity) and referred to community-based organizations (CBOs) and social service providers to address those needs. In recent years, an array of digital platforms, known as Social Health Access and Referral Platforms (SHARPs), have emerged to facilitate the scale and implementation of these models amidst growing system demand. Recent evidence on the effectiveness of social risk screen and refer models and SHARPs has been mixed, giving researchers pause and calling for more nuanced understanding of the limitations of such models, especially for promoting child and family health. Design thinking informed by the Life-Course Health Development (LCHD) framework provides a particularly useful lens for synthesizing emerging limitations of such models in the pediatric context, given the dynamic and developmentally-driven circumstances that shape family health and well-being in the early life course. By (1) focusing on addressing deficits-based social risks, (2) scoping to act upon narrow, downstream needs, (3) timing to react to social needs that have already caused harm rather than preventing them, and (4) limiting scale to individual-by-individual responses rather than structural and population-wide interventions, the current design of prevailing social risk screen and refer programs fundamentally limits their potential impact and misses opportunities to improve health equity over the life course. How can health care, social care, and technology partners move forward in collaboration with families and communities to better support equitable lifelong health and social development? In this narrative review, we will summarize the current design, implementation, and limitations of the predominant social risk screen and refer approach in the context of early childhood and adolescent care delivery. We then will apply LCHD principles to advance and improve on this approach from a reactionary focus towards a Family Journey Model that better supports life course health development.

Liu PY, Spiker S, Holguin M, Schickedanz A. Innovations in social health delivery to advance equitable pediatric and adolescent life course health development: a review and roadmap forward. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2023;:101451. DOI:10.1016/j.cppeds.2023.101451. PMID: 37957084

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Children and Youth
Screening research
Social Determinant of Health
Not Specified
Study design