Screening and referral for low-income families' social determinants of health by US pediatricians

Acad Pediatr

Objective: To measure the frequency US pediatricians report screening and referring for social needs and identify pediatrician and practice level predictors for screening and referral.

Methods: Data were from the AAP Periodic Survey for October 2014-March 2015 with a response rate of 46.6% (732/1570). Respondents reported on: 1) routine screening of low-income families for social needs, 2) attitudes toward screening, and 3) referral of low-income families for community resources. Results were analyzed by pediatrician and practice characteristics.

Results: While most pediatricians (61.6%) thought that screening is important, fewer (39.9%) reported that screening is feasible or felt prepared addressing families’ social needs (20.2%). The topics that pediatricians reported routinely asking low-income families about at visits (defined as ≥50% visits) were need for childcare (41.5%) and transportation barriers (28.4%). Pediatricians were less likely to report asking about housing (18.7%), food (18.6%), and utilities/heating (14.0%) insecurity. In multivariable analyses, pediatricians were more likely to report both that they screen and refer when they reported having more patients in financial hardship and having someone in the practice with the responsibility to connect low-income families to community services. Pediatricians who endorsed the importance of screening and who reported being prepared were also more likely to screen/refer.

Conclusions: A minority of pediatricians report routinely screening for social needs. Pediatricians were more likely to report that they screen and refer if they had positive attitudes towards the importance of screening, felt prepared, and had support staff to assist families in need.

Garg A, Cull W, Olson L, et al. Screening and referral for low-income families' social determinants of health by US pediatricians. Acad Pediatr. 2019. PMID: 31129128. DOI: 10.1016/j.acap.2019.05.125.

Publication Year: 
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Economic Security
Housing Stability
Not Specified
Children and Youth
Screening Research: