Social Needs Screening During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Submission ID :
ESPR468
Submission Type
Abstract: :

Background: More than 40 million people lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, placing immeasurable stress on families and making it difficult for parents to support their children's basic needs. Research shows that screening for social determinants of health is an important part of a child's well visit, noting that awareness of these factors leads to more holistic and improved quality of care.  Due to increased precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic and significant decrease in well-child visits and in-person appointments, there has been a marked decrease in the number of face-to-face opportunities for these screenings. In a time of increased need, methods such as telephone screenings represent an opportunity to assess needs and connect patients and families with helpful resources.

Objectives: The objectives of this effort included identifying pediatric outpatients' family social needs via telephone screening, providing families with targeted community resources, and involving medical student volunteers in the screening process.

Methods:  This study occurred in Baltimore, Maryland at the University of Maryland Pediatrics at Midtown outpatient practice.  A group of Pediatrics resident physicians and medical students developed a telephone welfare screening tool and called families receiving primary care at the clinic over a 9 week period. The team documented identified needs and used a community resources database to provide resources to families over the phone.  Data regarding the identified needs was collected and analyzed throughout the screening process.  

Results: Volunteers contacted 671 families using our finalized screening tool. Of those, 349 answered the telephone call (52%) and 328 (49%) agreed to participate in the screening. Results showed that families commonly identified food insecurity (19.5%) and lack of emotional support (17.7%).  This was consistent across families' home locations as analyzed by postal ZIP code.  All medical students felt participating increased their knowledge about social needs and services and impacted the way they plan to interact with patients.   

Conclusions:  This study suggests that telephone screening is a reasonable method for identifying and addressing the social needs of pediatric primary care patients and meaningful way to engage medical students. Our results support previous research identifying widespread social needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, our study supports the notion that there are significant and widespread social needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.


University of Maryland School of Medicine
University of Maryland
University of Maryland
University of Maryland School of Medicine

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