Caregiver Opinion of In-Hospital Screening for Unmet Social Needs by Pediatric Residents

Published in: Academic Pediatrics, V. 16, no 2, Mar. 2016, p. 161-167

Posted on RAND.org on March 21, 2016

by Jeffrey D. Colvin, Jessica L. Bettenhausen, Kaston D. Anderson-Carpenter, Vicki Collie-Akers, Paul J. Chung, Patricia Stone

Read More

Access further information on this document at Academic Pediatrics

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Research Questions

  1. Do the caregivers for hospitalized children feel they can ask their physicians for help with social needs?
  2. Do physicians know how to provide that help?
  3. Should physicians ask their patients about social needs?

OBJECTIVE: Child health is strongly influenced by social determinants. Little is known about the opinions of primary caregivers regarding the physicians' role in addressing social needs. Our objective was to examine caregivers' opinions about that role and any associations between those opinions, previous exposure to screening for needs by pediatric residents, and socioeconomic status (SES). METHODS: Cross-sectional survey study of caregivers of hospitalized children. The survey collected information on caregiver opinion regarding their ability to ask physicians for help with social needs, whether physicians know how to help with those needs, and whether physicians should ask about social needs. The chi square test was used to identify associations between caregiver opinions, prior screening by a resident at admission, and SES (determined by census tract median household income). RESULTS: Surveys were completed by 143 caregivers (79% participation). Most respondents agreed that they could ask their physician for help (54.5%), that their physician knows how to help (64.3%), and that physicians should ask about social needs (71.3%). Previously screened caregivers had more favorable opinions about asking for help (76.2% vs 45.5%, P < .01), whether their physician knows how to help (81.0% vs 57.4%, P = .02), and physician screening for unmet needs (85.7% vs 65.3%, P = .03). There were no SES differences in opinion. CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers have favorable opinions of the physician's role in addressing the social determinants of health, especially after being screened. Physicians should be confident in the acceptability of screening families for social needs.

Key Findings

  • Caregivers of in-hospital pediatric patients have favorable opinions of their physician's role in addressing unmet social needs.
  • They believe physicians are capable of providing that help with those needs.
  • They also feel that physicians should ask their patients about social needs.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.