This study scrutinized 80,000 primary care visits, unveiling key determinants affecting Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screenings. Physician assistants demonstrated higher completion rates compared to doctors or nurse practitioners. Lower rates were observed among uninsured and AccessHealth patients. Surprisingly, patient demographics had minimal influence. Lengthy surveys hindered completion, especially towards the end. Trust in patient-provider relationships was pivotal in sensitive screenings. Future research avenues include standardized phrasing and optimal screening settings, crucial for equitable healthcare.
As healthcare systems embrace Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screenings, this study by experts at the University of South Carolina investigated the complexities influencing completion rates. Despite 95% incomplete screenings, physician assistants outperformed doctors and nurse practitioners. Notably, disparities existed among uninsured and AccessHealth patients. Unexpectedly, demographics had minimal impact. Survey length and patient-provider trust emerged as pivotal factors. The research underscores the need for standardized approaches and optimal settings to enhance SDOH screening efficacy.
Understanding the intricate dynamics influencing the completion of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screenings during primary care visits stands as a pivotal cornerstone in enhancing healthcare outcomes. A recent study published in JAMA Network Open, conducted by experts at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and Arnold School of Public Health, delved into the multifaceted elements dictating the rates of completion for these screenings. The findings underscored the pivotal role of various factors such as provider type, survey length, payer plans, and the patient-provider relationship in steering SDOH screening rates.
Highlighting the significance of this inquiry, the study’s lead author emphasized, “Health systems are increasingly engaging in SDOH screening,” while acknowledging the scarcity of evidence encompassing patient and clinician perspectives in early screening initiatives.
Examining over 80,000 primary care visits from practices conducting SDOH screenings, the research unearthed compelling insights. Notably, around 70 percent of screenings occurred during visits with physicians, while nurse practitioners oversaw approximately 16.5 percent. However, a staggering 95 percent of visits resulted in incomplete SDOH questionnaires, with only 4 percent being fully answered.
One of the pivotal factors influencing the completion of SDOH screenings was the type of healthcare professional administering them. Surprisingly, screenings administered by physician assistants exhibited higher completion rates compared to those administered by medical doctors or nurse practitioners. This discrepancy potentially stemmed from the differing acuity levels of visits, with clinicians facing time constraints during higher acuity visits, possibly impeding the completion of screenings.
Moreover, the study highlighted lower screening rates among uninsured patients or those enrolled in AccessHealth, a program catering to low-income individuals. This underscored the importance of addressing screening disparities among vulnerable populations, as they are more likely to grapple with adverse social determinants of health.
Contrary to expectations, patient demographics showed little association with screening completion rates, signaling the potential benefits of universally implementing SDOH screenings rather than risk-stratifying based on demographics.
Another pivotal discovery was the correlation between survey length and completion rates. Lengthy and redundant questionnaires led to decreased patient engagement, with questions towards the survey’s end being particularly susceptible to non-completion. While patients did not express significant concerns about survey length, clinicians highlighted the potential impact of lengthy surveys on patient participation.
Furthermore, the study emphasized the critical role of the patient-provider relationship in fostering open discussions during sensitive SDOH screenings. Patients were more likely to skip or provide inaccurate responses when confronted with sensitive topics, underscoring the necessity of cultivating trust and comfort within these interactions.
Looking ahead, the study identified several unexplored avenues that could significantly influence SDOH screening uptake. These include standardizing question phrasing to elucidate the purpose behind screenings and determining the optimal location or visit type for conducting these screenings. Additionally, investigating the impact of perceived abilities to address flagged SDOH concerns on patient engagement remains a critical area for future research.
Overall, this study unveils critical insights into Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screenings, illuminating key factors dictating completion rates. Physician assistants, uninsured, and survey lengths significantly influenced screening rates. Patient demographics displayed limited influence. Trust in patient-provider relationships proved crucial. Future research avenues include standardizing question phrasing and determining optimal screening environments. Addressing these factors will empower equitable SDOH screening, ensuring inclusive healthcare practices for all.