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August 29, 2019

Screening for Social Determinants of Health: The Known and Unknown

Author Affiliations
  • 1Northwell Health, Long Island, New York
  • 2Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra University, Long Island, New York
JAMA. 2019;322(11):1037-1038. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.10915

In the age of precision medicine and genomics, screening for social determinants of health in a clinical setting is relatively simple. This screening may be as or more effective than genetic screening in improving patient health and aiding risk stratification. Universal screening for social determinants of health by clinicians is now either recommended or being actively considered for recommendation by many professional societies and national organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Substantial evidence highlights ways to integrate addressing patients’ social determinants and social service needs into clinical care. Thus, now is an opportune time to review various practices for clinical screening and referrals. However, identifying and addressing patients’ social determinants will only be successful if these clinical practices occur with broad structural, community, and societal changes to the determinants that currently perpetuate poor health.

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