Collection and Use of Social Determinants of Health Data in Inpatient General Internal Medicine Wards: A Scoping Review
There is growing interest in collecting information on the social determinants of health (SDoH) in inpatient hospital settings. This information can be used to inform patient care, quality improvement initiatives, and health system and policy changes towards narrowing health inequities.
We conducted a scoping review to describe available evidence on SDoH data collection and how it is used to inform patient care in inpatient general internal medicine settings. We found very limited evidence (8 international studies) that examined this issue, and they used a variety of screening tools, methods for data collection, and SDoH domains. The most common SDoH were food security or malnutrition (n=7), followed by housing, transportation, employment, education, income, functional status and disability, and social support (n=5 each). Four of the eight studies applied the data to inform patient care, and three provided community resource referrals.
We discuss the need for more robust SDoH data collection in inpatient settings. We draw upon literature on SDoH data collection and use from primary care settings, and describe opportunities to integrate screening into the electronic medical record, to help facilitate a more comprehensive social history.
The findings offer important insights for hospital care providers, administrators, and policymakers to consider, to inform their next steps on whether or not to pursue SDoH data collection and use across inpatient settings.