Medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) bring legal services into health care settings to address patients' unmet legal needs. This pilot project examined whether MLP services impact patients' perceptions of stress and wellbeing.
Methods: Providers referred patients with legal concerns to the Tucson Family Advocacy Program (TFAP), an MLP within a family medicine clinic. Stress levels and wellbeing were assessed before and after legal services using self-administered 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) and Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCaW) instruments.
Results: Sixty-seven participants completed pre- and post-service questionnaires. Within this group, the mean PSS-10 score decreased 8.1 points. Wellbeing scores improved by 1.8 points. Individual changes in perceived stress were strongly related to participants' level of concern regarding the particular legal issues addressed.
Conclusions: Services in patient-centered medical homes to address unmet legal needs have the potential to reduce perceived stress and improve overall wellbeing. Additional studies concerning MLPs and patient outcomes are needed.