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Screening Children for Social Determinants of Health: A Systematic Review.

Pediatrics 2019 October
CONTEXT: Screening children for social determinants of health (SDOHs) has gained attention in recent years, but there is a deficit in understanding the present state of the science.

OBJECTIVE: To systematically review SDOH screening tools used with children, examine their psychometric properties, and evaluate how they detect early indicators of risk and inform care.

DATA SOURCES: Comprehensive electronic search of PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Web of Science Core Collection.

STUDY SELECTION: Studies in which a tool that screened children for multiple SDOHs (defined according to Healthy People 2020) was developed, tested, and/or employed.

DATA EXTRACTION: Extraction domains included study characteristics, screening tool characteristics, SDOHs screened, and follow-up procedures.

RESULTS: The search returned 6274 studies. We retained 17 studies encompassing 11 screeners. Study samples were diverse with respect to biological sex and race and/or ethnicity. Screening was primarily conducted in clinical settings with a parent or caregiver being the primary informant for all screeners. Psychometric properties were assessed for only 3 screeners. The most common SDOH domains screened included the family context and economic stability. Authors of the majority of studies described referrals and/or interventions that followed screening to address identified SDOHs.

LIMITATIONS: Following the Healthy People 2020 SDOH definition may have excluded articles that other definitions would have captured.

CONCLUSIONS: The extent to which SDOH screening accurately assessed a child's SDOHs was largely unevaluated. Authors of future research should also evaluate if referrals and interventions after the screening effectively address SDOHs and improve child well-being.

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