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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Screenings for Social Determinants of Health Need to Be Tailored to Clinics

An estimated 70 percent of the variation in healthcare outcomes is attributable to social determinants, but it is only in recent years that healthcare settings have begun formally looking at these factors to better understand and treat patients.

Now, a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers finds that these social determinant screening systems need to be tailored to individual clinics.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, looked at community health centers in Boston that use a standardized system for social determinant screening in their pediatric practices and found a great deal of variation in practice, as well as in opinions about what helps or hinders the process.

“In our focus groups, there was little agreement about whether provider perspectives, work flow, prior experience, site resources and staffing, and sustainability were barriers or facilitators for implementing the screening, because they were all seen as barriers and facilitators depending on the respondent, ” says study senior author Dr. Mari-Lynn Drainoniresearch professor of health law, policy & management at BUSPH. “This suggests that tailoring processes and including staff and providers in implementation decisions may overcome issues with time, work flow, and knowledge.”

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