Patient perspectives on addressing social needs in primary care using a screening and resource referral intervention

J Gen Intern Med

Interest is growing in interventions to address social needs in clinical settings. However, little is known about patients' perceptions and experiences with these interventions. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate patients' experiences and patient-reported outcomes of a primary care-based intervention to help patients connect with community resources using trained volunteer advocates. DESIGN: Qualitative telephone interviews with patients who had worked with the volunteer advocates. Sample and recruitment targets were equally distributed between patients who had at least one reported success in meeting an identified need and those who had no reported needs met, based on the database used to document patient encounters. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred two patients. INTERVENTIONS: Patients at the study clinic were periodically screened for social needs. If needs were identified, they were referred to a trained volunteer advocate who further assessed their needs, provided them with resource referrals, and followed up with them on whether their need was met. APPROACH: Thematic analysis was used to code the data. KEY RESULTS: Interviewed patients appreciated the services offered, especially the follow-up. Patients' ability to access the resource to which they were referred was enhanced by assistance with filling out forms, calling community resources, and other types of navigation. Patients also reported that interacting with the advocates made them feel listened to and cared for, which they perceived as noteworthy in their lives. CONCLUSIONS: This patient-reported information provides key insights into a human-centered intervention in a clinical environment. Our findings highlight what works in clinical interventions addressing social needs and provide outcomes that are difficult to measure using existing quantitative metrics. Patients experienced the intervention as a therapeutic relationship/working alliance, a type of care that correlates with positive outcomes such as treatment adherence and quality of life. These insights will help design more patient-centered approaches to providing holistic patient care.

Hsu C, Cruz S, Placzek H, et al. Patient perspectives on addressing social needs in primary care using a screening and resource referral intervention. J Gen Intern Med. 2019. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 31792864. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-019-05397-6.

Publication Year: 
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Not Specified
Patient Experience of Care
Screening Research: