"It Made Me Feel like Things Are Starting to Change in Society:" A Qualitative Study to Foster Positive Patient Experiences during Phone-Based Social Needs Interventions

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Oct 3;19(19):12668. doi: 10.3390/ijerph191912668.


Many healthcare organizations are screening patients for health-related social needs (HRSN) to improve healthcare quality and outcomes. Due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and limited time during clinical visits, much of this screening is now happening by phone. To promote healing and avoid harm, it is vital to understand patient experiences and recommendations regarding these activities. We conducted a pragmatic qualitative study with patients who had participated in a HRSN intervention. We applied maximum variation sampling, completed recruitment and interviews by phone, and carried out an inductive reflexive thematic analysis. From August to November 2021 we interviewed 34 patients, developed 6 themes, and used these themes to create a framework for generating positive patient experiences during phone-based HRSN interventions. First, we found patients were likely to have initial skepticism or reservations about the intervention. Second, we identified 4 positive intervention components regarding patient experience: transparency and respect for patient autonomy; kind demeanor; genuine intention to help; and attentiveness and responsiveness to patients' situations. Finally, we found patients could be left with feelings of appreciation or hope, regardless of whether they connected with HRSN resources. Healthcare organizations can incorporate our framework into trainings for team members carrying out phone-based HRSN interventions.

Keywords: health-related social needs; patient-centered care; qualitative research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Qualitative Research