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Identification of Caregiver-Reported Social Risk Factors in Hospitalized Children

Objectives: Although health systems are increasingly moving toward addressing social determinants of health, social risk screening for hospitalized children is largely unexplored. We sought to determine if inpatient screening was feasible and describe the prevalence of social risk among children and caregivers, with special attention given to children with chronic conditions.

Methods: Caregivers of pediatric patients on the hospitalist service at a children's hospital in the Pacific Northwest completed a social risk survey in 2017. This survey was used to capture items related to caregiver demographics; socioeconomic, psychosocial, and household risks; and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Charts were reviewed for child demographics and medical complexity. Results were tabulated as frequency distributions, and analyses compared the association of risk factors with a child's medical complexity by using χ 2 tests.

Results: A total of 265 out of 304 (87%) caregivers consented to participate. One in 3 families endorsed markers of financial stress (eg, difficulty paying for food, rent, or utilities). Forty percent experienced medical bill or insurance troubles. Caregiver mental health concerns were prevalent, affecting over one-third of all respondents. ACEs were also common, with 38% of children having at least 1 ACE. The presence of any ACE was more likely for children with chronic conditions than those without.

Conclusions: We found that social risk screening in the inpatient setting was feasible; social risk was uniformly common and did not disproportionately affect those with chronic diseases. Knowing the prevalence of social risk may assist in appropriate alignment of interventions tiered by social complexity. 

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
American Academy of Pediatrics
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Journal Titles
Hospital Pediatrics
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