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.
Keywords: health status disparities; poverty; social determinants of health; socioeconomic factors; vulnerable populations.
Copyright © 2016 Academic Pediatric Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.