Effectiveness of Social Needs Screening and Interventions in Clinical Settings on Utilization, Cost, and Clinical Outcomes: A Systematic Review

Alice F. Yan, Zhuo Chen, Yang Wang, Jennifer A. Campbell, Qian Li Xue, Michelle Y. Williams, Lance S. Weinhardt, Leonard E. Egede

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This systematic review examined and synthesized peer-reviewed research studies that reported the process of integrating social determinants of health (SDOH) or social needs screening into electronic health records (EHRs) and the intervention effects in the United States. Methods: Following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis) guidelines, a systematic search of Scopus, Web of Science Core Collection, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Central Register of Clinical Trials was performed. English language peer-reviewed studies that reported the process of integrating SDOH or social needs screening into EHRs within the U.S. health systems and published between January 2015 and December 2021 were included. The review focused on process measures, social needs changes, health outcomes, and health care cost and utilization. Results: In total, 28 studies were included, and half were randomized controlled trials. The majority of the studies targeted multiple SDOH domains. The interventions vary by the levels of intensity of their approaches and heterogeneities in outcome measures. Most studies (82%, n=23) reported the findings related to the process measures, and nearly half (43%, n=12) reported outcomes related to social needs. By contrast, only 39% (n=11) and 32% (n=9) of the studies reported health outcomes and impact on health care cost and utilization, respectively. Findings on patients' social needs change demonstrated improved access to resources. However, findings were mixed on intervention effects on health and health care cost and utilization. We also identified gaps in implementation challenges to be overcome. Conclusion: Our review supports the current policy efforts to increase U.S. health systems' investment toward directly addressing SDOH. While effective interventions can be more complex or resource intensive than an online referral, health care organizations hoping to achieve health equity and improve population health must commit the effort and investment required to achieve this goal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-475
Number of pages22
JournalHealth Equity
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Clinical outcomes
  • Health care utilization and cost
  • Intervention
  • Screening
  • Social needs
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Information Management

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