Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Survey of Physicians Highlights Overlooked Connection Between Social Needs and Health

Physicians Believe Addressing Patients' Social Needs Is As Important As Addressing Their Medical Conditions.

Medical care alone cannot help people achieve and maintain good health if they do not have enough to eat, live in substandard housing or lack access to reliable transportation. A new survey of 1,000 primary care providers and pediatricians conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) indicates physicians believe these unmet social needs are leading directly to worse health for Americans.

Unfortunately, the poll also reveals physicians do not feel confident in their capacity to address their patients’ social needs and wish the health care system would pay for the costs associated with connecting their patients to the services in their communities that can help them take steps to improve their health.

“Housing, employment, income and education are key factors that shape our health, especially for the most vulnerable among us,” said Jane Lowe, team director for RWJF’s Vulnerable Populations portfolio. “Physicians are sending a clear message: The health care system cannot continue to overlook social needs if we want to improve health in this country.”

While promising models exist that address social needs, more can be done. Leadership and commitment from health care providers, insurers and government leaders will be required to create system-wide and lasting change.

Read more results from this national survey of physicians and share your responses to the results.

1 comment:

  1. Back in Septembeber there was a story about a man from Ohio who died from a tooth infection. The man was unemployed, with no health insurance & he couldn't afford to pay for antibiotics. So yes, a lack of social needs can have a negative impact on a person's health & in some cases can be deadly. One thing physicians or medical staff can do is educate people on 2-1-1 (national info & referral search engine for human service needs). Dial 2-1-1 or go on-line to to see what resources/agencies are available to help meet your needs.