Screening for the social determinants of health in clinical practice is still widely debated.
A scoping review was used to (1) explore the various screening tools that are available to identify social risk, (2) examine the impact that screening for social determinants has on health and social outcomes, and (3) identify factors that promote the uptake of screening in routine clinical care.
Over the last two decades, a growing number of screening tools have been developed to help frontline health workers ask about the social determinants of health in clinical care. In addition to clinical practice guidelines that recommend screening for specific areas of social risk (e.g., violence in pregnancy), there is also a growing body of evidence exploring the use of screening or case finding for identifying multiple domains of social risk (e.g., poverty, food insecurity, violence, unemployment, and housing problems).
There is increasing traction within the medical field for improving social history taking and integrating more formal screening for social determinants of health within clinical practice. There is also a growing number of high-quality evidence-based reviews that identify interventions that are effective in promoting health equity at the individual patient level, and at broader community and structural levels.