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Social Needs Screening During Pediatric Emergency Department Visits: Disparities in Unmet Social Needs

      Abstract

      Objective

      : To determine the prevalence of unmet social needs (USN) in a pediatric emergency department (PED) patient population and examine disparities in USN by self-selected language and patient demographics.

      Methods

      : We surveyed a convenience sample of English- and Spanish-speaking caregivers of patients <18-years-old presenting to a free-standing children's hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the caregiver's self-selected language, the pediatric version of the Screener for Intensifying Community Referrals for Health (p-SINCERE) assessed patient demographics and 10 areas of social needs. The primary outcome was presence of USN. Descriptive statistics compared 1) self-selected languages and 2) absence vs presence of USN. Patient and caregiver-level risk factors associated with USN were identified using multivariable logistic regression.

      Results

      : Of the 10156 patients seen in our PED from 04/01/2021 to 08/03/2021, there were 9922 eligible, 5357 approached, and 3987 enrolled caregivers. Of the 3987 caregivers enrolled, self-selected language was English for 3662(91.8%) and Spanish for 325(8.2%). There were 1680 enrolled caregivers with ≥1 USN, representing 39.7% of English-speaking and 70.2% of Spanish-speaking caregivers(p<0.001). The odds of having ≥1 USN was more than 2 times higher in Spanish-speakers than in English-speakers after adjustment.

      Conclusion

      : Unmet social needs are common for families presenting for care to a PED, especially among Spanish-speaking caregivers. Furthermore, this study demonstrates disparities in limited English proficiency (LEP), race/ethnicity, and child insurance status. These findings support the practicality of utilizing the PED as an access point to initiate social need screening and referrals to address SDOH and health disparities.

      Keywords

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