What Do EHRs Tell Us about How We Deploy Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health

Soc Work Public Health. 2022 Apr 3;37(3):287-296. doi: 10.1080/19371918.2021.2001406. Epub 2021 Dec 7.


The objective of this study was to determine how well Electronic Health Record (EHR) documentation identifies which health professionals act to address patient social determinants of health (SDOH) and what interventions are documented. The Electronic Medical Record Search Engine was used to identify food and housing insecurity EHR notes. From the notes, researchers randomly sampled 60 from each SDOH category. Of 120 notes, which contained a reference to food or housing insecurity, 72% also contained information on an intervention taken. Interventions were documented by social workers 63% of the time, followed by dietitians and physicians. Addressing patient SDOH is a crucial part of comprehensive healthcare. Findings contribute to a broader conversation on the documentation and interventions in healthcare settings to address patients' SDOH. Findings support the critical importance of standardizing SDOH documentation in the EHR across more members of the health workforce to ensure patient needs are met.

Keywords: Social determinants of health; electronic health record; health workforce; social care; team-based care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Humans
  • Physicians*
  • Social Determinants of Health*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires