Implementing Social Determinant of Health Screening in a Family Medicine Clinic: A Pilot Study

Am J Med Qual. 2022 May-Jun;37(3):200-206. doi: 10.1097/JMQ.0000000000000016. Epub 2021 Aug 20.


While unmet social needs can perpetuate barriers to health equity, health care staff may feel unprepared to address these needs. This article describes a pilot study on implementing a screening process for social determinants of health in a family medicine clinic where there was no prior standard of care. A quality improvement approach was used to frame the implementation and evolution of screening and follow-up strategies for social needs. Social determinant of health screening was successfully implemented during this pilot of 400 encounters, revealing a 26.3% prevalence. Options for addressing social needs grew during the study, although no statistically significant impact was observed on measured short-term health outcomes. Physicians can use quality improvement to counter clinical inertia toward addressing social determinants of health and also to concurrently screen and develop appropriate patient-oriented solutions in their clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Family Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Pilot Projects
  • Social Determinants of Health*