Multiple Behavior Change Intervention to Improve Detection of Unmet Social Needs and Resulting Resource Referrals

Published in: Academic Pediatrics, 2015

Posted on RAND.org on July 30, 2015

by Jeffrey D. Colvin, Jessica L. Bettenhausen, Kaston D. Anderson-Carpenter, Vicki Collie-Akers, Laura Plencner, Molly Krager, Brooke Nelson, Sara Donnelly, Julia Simmons, Valeria Higinio, Paul J. Chung

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OBJECTIVE: It is critical that pediatric residents learn to effectively screen families for active and addressable social needs (ie, negative social determinants of health). We sought to determine 1) whether a brief intervention teaching residents about IHELP, a social needs screening tool, could improve resident screening, and 2) how accurately IHELP could detect needs in the inpatient setting. METHODS: During an 18-month period, interns rotating on 1 of 2 otherwise identical inpatient general pediatrics teams were trained in IHELP. Interns on the other team served as the comparison group. Every admission history and physical examination (H&P) was reviewed for IHELP screening. Social work evaluations were used to establish the sensitivity and specificity of IHELP and document resources provided to families with active needs. During a 21-month postintervention period, every third H&P was reviewed to determine median duration of continued IHELP use. RESULTS: A total of 619 admissions met inclusion criteria. Over 80% of intervention team H&Ps documented use of IHELP. The percentage of social work consults was nearly 3 times greater on the intervention team than on the comparison team (P < .001). Among H&Ps with documented use of IHELP, specificity was 0.96 (95% confidence interval 0.87–0.99) and sensitivity was 0.63 (95% confidence interval 0.50-0.73). Social work provided resources for 78% of positively screened families. The median duration of screening use by residents after the intervention was 8.1 months (interquartile range 1-10 months). CONCLUSIONS: A brief intervention increased resident screening and detection of social needs, leading to important referrals to address those needs.

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