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Social Determinants of Health in Family Medicine Residency: A National Survey of Program Directors.

Family Medicine 2023 September 26
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Social factors account for most health outcomes, underscoring the need to address social determinants of health (SDH) to eliminate health disparities. Our objectives are (1) to describe the scope of formal SDH curricula in family medicine residency, (2) to identify residency program characteristics associated with integrated core curriculum components to teach SDH, and (3) to identify barriers to addressing SDH in residency.

METHODS: We distributed a cross-sectional survey to all family medicine residency program directors (PDs) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education as identified by the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors.

RESULTS: Of 624 eligible program directors, 279 completed the survey (45% response rate). Overall, 41.2% of respondents reported significant formal SDH training in their program. Though a majority (93.9%) agreed that screening for social needs should be a standard of care, most (58.9%) did not use standardized screening tools. The most common barriers to addressing SDH were lack of clinical resources (eg, social workers, legal advocates), lack of community resources (eg, food banks, substance use disorder treatment), and inadequate screening instruments or integration into the electronic medical record system. Availability of referral resources was associated with PDs' increased perception of resident SDH competency.

CONCLUSIONS: Nearly all respondents agreed that screening for social needs should be a standard part of care; however, this vision is not yet realized. To better train the next generation of physicians to identify and meaningfully address social needs, additional research is needed. This research might include mixed-methods approaches that incorporate qualitative assessments to define best practices and patient-centered outcomes related to identifying and responding to SDH.

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