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Screenings for Health-Related Social Needs

Overview

A social-needs screening is a way for a doctor or nurse to learn about things in your life that could affect your or your child's health. It's done using a set of questions asked before or during a health care appointment. Social-needs screening is different from other health screenings because the questions aren't about health problems. Instead, they're about things like where you live, if you have enough food, or if you have trouble paying gas or electric bills. There also may be questions about if you are safe in your daily life.

It can be surprising to be asked about social needs when you're not expecting it. Sometimes social needs can feel hard to talk about. You don't have to answer any questions you don't want to. And you don't have to accept help.

Everyone gets screened for social needs. That's because everyone's health is impacted by these things.

Telling a doctor about your social needs can help them provide support if you need it.

Why is this screening done?

It helps a doctor get a fuller picture of their patient's health. When a doctor knows more about you, they can be more helpful.

Treating medical needs works better when other needs are also met. It can be hard for a person to care for a health problem if they're dealing with other stress, like having enough food or stable housing.

Knowing what types of help a person needs can help a doctor choose the right resources to share. For example, a person who needs follow-up visits but doesn't have a way to get to them may benefit most from a program that offers help with rides.

It's the right thing to do. Everyone deserves access to the things that help them live a healthy life.

How can you work with your doctor?

Different screeners ask different questions. If you need help with something that wasn't covered, ask about it.

If you've had trouble getting help with social needs before, let your doctor know. Sometimes there are people who can help with the calls or forms.

Be as open as you can be about your mental and emotional health. Stress related to social needs is real, and it can affect you.

Remember, your doctor isn't judging you. Many people have social needs of some kind, and your doctor wants to help.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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