Understanding health outcomes and patterns of health care utilization associated with patients' cumulative social determinant of health (SDOH) risk is essential to supporting better health care. This study compared mental and physical health outcomes and health care utilization by increasing number of social needs among a clinical adult population. Surveys were sent to 6000 patients with recent visits to 7 primary care clinics in Portland, Oregon in 2018. The final study sample included respondents who matched to medical claims data, N = 1748. The authors used a modified logistic regression model to estimate risk ratios for the relationship between cumulative SDOH factors and self-reported chronic conditions, and a 2-part model to estimate the effects of cumulative SDOH risk on health care utilization. Increased SDOH need was associated with increasing likelihood of worse self-reported health outcomes, especially mental health. Compared with those with no SDOH need, having 1-2 SDOH need(s) (adjusted risk ratio [aRR] 1.25; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.06-1.46) and 3 or more SDOH needs (aRR 1.45; 95% CI: 1.22-1.73) had a greater risk of reporting any behavioral health condition. However, the number of SDOH had a graded but inverse impact on use of mental health care services where fewer visits were observed among those using care. Having SDOH was associated with increased likelihood of having an emergency department visit and increased number of primary care visits. This study demonstrates the compounding impact of SDOH on health and health care use. This highlights the importance of collecting SDOH, including the total number of SDOH needs, when considering a patient's health and health care.
Keywords: cumulative risk; health disparities; low-income population; patient care; social needs.