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DOI: 10.1038/s41390-018-0012-1


The social determinants of health (SDoH) are defined by the World Health Organization as the "conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age." Within pediatrics, studies have highlighted links between these underlying social, economic, and environmental conditions, and a range of health outcomes related to both acute and chronic disease. Additionally, within the adult literature, multiple studies have shown significant links between social problems experienced during childhood and "adult diseases" such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension. A variety of potential mechanisms for such links have been explored including differential access to care, exposure to carcinogens and pathogens, health-affecting behaviors, and physiologic responses to allostatic load (i.e., toxic stress). This robust literature supports the importance of the SDoH and the development and evaluation of social needs interventions. These interventions are also driven by evolving economic realities, most importantly, the shift from fee-for-service to value-based payment models. This article reviews existing evidence regarding pediatric-focused clinical interventions that address the SDoH, those that target basic needs such as food insecurity, housing insecurity, and diminished access to care. The paper summarizes common challenges encountered in the evaluation of such interventions. Finally, the paper concludes by introducing key opportunities for future inquiry.

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Pediatric research





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MeSH Keywords

Adult; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (U.S.); Child; Health Services Accessibility; Health Services Research; Humans; Insurance, Health; Outcome Assessment (Health Care); Pediatrics; Public Health; Reimbursement Mechanisms; Social Determinants of Health; Societies, Medical; United States; World Health Organization