Family Medicine Team Perspectives on Screening for Health-Related Social Needs

Laura Porterfield, Quratulanne H. Jan, Forrest Jones, Tran Cao, Lacy Davis, Shannon Guillot-Wright, Christen M. Walcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Social drivers of health (SDH) strongly influence health outcomes and disparities. Although systemic level change is vital to address the disparities driven by SDH, it is also crucial that health care organizations develop the ability to care for patients in a manner that accounts for social factors and their influence on patient health. Although primary care is a natural fit for health-related social needs (HRSN) screening and intervention, significant barriers can impede primary care's effectiveness in this area. Methods: We conducted 3 focus groups with family medicine clinicians, clinical staff, and social care workers in an academic medical center using a semistructured discussion guide to explore current practices, perceived benefits, barriers, and potential opportunities and approaches for integrating routine HRSN screening in primary care. Results: 3 primary themes emerged from the focus groups. They included 1) the barriers to routine screening in primary care, including time, workload, emotional burden, patient factors, and team members' fear of inadequacy of resources or their own ability; 2) the importance and benefit of HRSN screening, including the opportunity to improve patient care through increased care team awareness of the patient's context, interventions to address HRSN, and improved relationships between the care team and the patient; and 3) recommendations for implementing routine screening in primary care, including opportunities to optimize workflow and technology, the importance of an electronic medical record (EMR)-integrated resource database, and the centrality of teamwork. Discussion: Family medicine health care teams embrace the importance of HRSN screening and the potential for positive impact. However, there are vital barriers and considerations to address for HRSN screening to be effectively integrated into primary care visits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-186
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • California Health Interview Survey
  • Chronic Disease
  • Community Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Focus Groups
  • Patient Care Team
  • Primary Health Care
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Social Factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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