Social determinants of health have been demonstrated to be important drivers of health outcomes and disparities. Screening for social needs has been routinely performed and shown to be beneficial in ambulatory settings, but little is known regarding parent perspectives on screening during pediatric hospitalizations. This study sought to determine parental attitudes surrounding inpatient screening and screening process preferences in the hospital setting.
We conducted 17 semistructured interviews with English- and Spanish-speaking parents of hospitalized children at 1 tertiary and 2 community hospitals between July 2020 and February 2021, with questions probing opinions and experiences with social needs screening, comfort level with discussing social needs with hospital providers, and screening process preferences in the hospital setting. Interviews were recorded, professionally transcribed, and analyzed thematically.
Participants were median age 32 years, with majority female and English-speaking, and nearly one-half with children admitted to a community hospital. Emergent themes included (1) importance of screening for social needs across multiple health care settings, (2) hospitals viewed as capable systems to respond to social needs, (3) most parents comfortable discussing social needs with inpatient providers, (4) appreciation for providers expressing caring and desire to help during inpatient screening, and (5) importance of a family-centered approach to inpatient screening.
Parents reported positive perceptions regarding pediatric inpatient social needs screening importance and hospitals’ ability to address social needs and identified multiple screening process preferences for the hospital setting that can inform the development of family-centered inpatient social needs screening strategies.