Youth Perspectives on Their Medical Team's Role in Screening for and Addressing Social Determinants of Health

J Adolesc Health. 2022 Jun;70(6):928-933. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.12.016. Epub 2022 Feb 11.


Purpose: Little is known about adolescents' and young adults' desires and preferences surrounding healthcare-based social determinants of health (SDOHs) interventions. To assess these preferences, we surveyed youth regarding their perspectives on their medical team's role in addressing SDOHs.

Methods: We conducted a national text message survey of youth aged 14-24 years. The survey asked five open-ended questions about SDOHs and SDOH interventions. Qualitative data were analyzed independently by two investigators using thematic analysis. Prevalence of codes was summarized using descriptive statistics.

Results: Among 1,156 participants, 1,038 responded to at least one survey question (response rate = 89.8%). Respondents were 19.2 (standard deviation: 2.4) years old on average, 48.9% male, 62.1% non-Hispanic white, and 38.9% qualified for free or reduced lunch. A large majority of our sample (81%) indicated that they think it is important for their doctor or medical team to ask about SDOHs. The most commonly reported barrier to seeking or receiving SDOH assistance was embarrassment (30%). Youth wanted their providers to help with SDOHs not only by providing information about resources (25%) and referrals (13%) but also by offering general advice (22%) and listening (11%). Approximately half (51%) of our sample preferred to receive information about SDOH assistance in person.

Discussion: Most youth believe it is important for their medical teams to ask about and address SDOHs. Implementation of healthcare-based SDOH interventions for youth should optimize opportunities for face-to-face discussions about assistance during clinical encounters.

Keywords: Adolescents; Medical team; Patient preference; Screening; Social determinants of health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Social Determinants of Health*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Text Messaging*
  • Young Adult