Health outcomes are markedly influenced by health-related social needs (HRSN) such as food insecurity and housing instability. Under new Joint Commission requirements, hospitals have recently increased attention to HRSN to reduce health disparities. To evaluate prevailing attitudes and guide hospital efforts, the authors conducted a systematic review to describe patients' and health care providers' perceptions related to screening for and addressing patients' HRSN in US hospitals. Articles were identified through PubMed and by expert recommendations, and synthesized by relevance of findings and basic study characteristics. The review included 22 articles, which showed that most health care providers believed that unmet social needs impact health and that screening for HRSN should be a standard part of hospital care. Notable differences existed between perceived importance of HRSN and actual screening rates, however. Patients reported high receptiveness to screening in hospital encounters, but cautioned to avoid stigmatization and protect privacy when screening. Limited knowledge of resources available, lack of time, and lack of actual resources were the most frequently reported barriers to screening for HRSN. Hospital efforts to screen and address HRSN will likely be facilitated by stakeholders' positive perceptions, but common barriers to screening and referral will need to be addressed to effectively scale up efforts and impact health disparities.
Keywords: attitudes; health-related social needs; screening; social determinants of health.