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August 23/30, 2016

Avoiding the Unintended Consequences of Screening for Social Determinants of Health

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington
  • 3Office for Community Child Health, Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, Connecticut
JAMA. 2016;316(8):813-814. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.9282

Screening for social determinants of health, which are the health-related social circumstances (eg, food insecurity and inadequate or unstable housing) in which people live and work, has gained momentum as evidenced by the recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services innovation initiative of $157 million toward creation of accountable health communities.1 Funding will allow grantees to test a novel model of health care that includes identifying and addressing social determinants of health for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services beneficiaries. The initiative promotes collaboration between the clinical realm and the community through screening of beneficiaries to (1) identify unmet health-related social needs and (2) assist high-risk beneficiaries (ie, >2 emergency department visits and a health-related social need) with accessing available community services.

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