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A social needs assessment tool for an urban Latino population

B.A. Careyva, R. Hamadani, T. Friel, C.A. Coyne
J Community Health

Unmet social needs contribute significantly to health outcomes, yet they are not routinely assessed in health care settings. Identifying modifiable social needs and feasible tools to assess them may improve health and decrease costs. We conducted 18 focus groups with 115 participants, stratified by age (18-35, 36-64, and 65+), ethnicity (Hispanic, non-Hispanic), and language (English, Spanish) to explore priority social needs, images to depict social need categories, and acceptability of a computer-based program to identify these needs. The top three social need domains were access to care, health promoting behaviors, and family responsibilities. Participants voiced diverse social needs with notable differences across demographic groups. Both the 36-64 year old age groups and Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients were disproportionately impacted by unmet social needs. Perceptions regarding use of an interactive computer program to assess social needs varied by age. Most participants noted that a tablet computer was an acceptable venue to share social needs, though a tutorial may be needed for patients in the 65 and older group. Lastly, participants' ranking of icons were compiled to identify recognizable images of social need categories for those with literacy challenges. Unmet social needs were identified across all groups. This composite of information (priority social needs and images to represent them) will allow for creation of a tailored social need screening tool within an urban Hispanic population.


Careyva BA, Hamadani R, Friel T, Coyne CA. A social needs assessment tool for an urban latino population. J Community Health. 2018;43(1):137-145. PMID: 28707180. DOI: 10.1007/s10900-017-0396-6.

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Patient Experience of Care
Screening research
Social Determinant of Health
Economic Security
Health Care Access
Not Specified
Social Support/Social Isolation
Study design
Other Study Design