Screening for poverty and related social determinants to improve knowledge of and links to resources (SPARK): development and cognitive testing of a tool for primary care

In 2012, the Upstream Lab collaborated with hospitals and local public health organizations to develop the SPARK (Screening for Poverty And Related social determinants to improve Knowledge of and links to resources) Tool. This study focused on refining the tool, making it easier to understand, inclusive, and informative about the significance of collecting social determinants of health data in healthcare settings.

Accurate social determinants data is crucial for identifying opportunities to improve health outcomes, recognizing patterns of inequity, and evaluating the impact of interventions. The SPARK Tool was collaboratively developed by researchers, healthcare providers, and patient partners to capture sociodemographic and social needs data.

A total of 195 participants from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador joined the cognitive interviews. The study team categorized participant comments and modified the SPARK tool based on feedback. Before publication in this study, researchers, patient partners, and sociodemographic data experts reviewed the tool.

Through these revisions, researchers believe that patients will better understand the tool’s purpose, be more receptive to it, and be more inclined to complete it.

The SPARK Tool is currently undergoing further validation through psychometric testing, including concurrent validity by comparing it against other standardized tools. Additionally, an ongoing study is implementing the SPARK Tool in five clinics across Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to assess its feasibility and acceptability in active primary care settings.



Authors: Itunuoluwa Adekoya, Alannah Delahunty-Pike, Dana Howse, Leanne Kosowan, Zita Seshie, Eunice Abaga, Jane Cooney, Marjeiry Robinson, Dorothy Senior, Alexander Zsager, Kris Aubrey-Bassler, Mandi Irwin, Lois Jackson, Alan Katz, Emily Marshall, Nazeem Muhajarine, Cory Neudorf, Andrew D. Pinto

Year: 2023