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Acad Pediatr. 2011 Sep-Oct;11(5):387-93. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2011.04.004. Epub 2011 Jun 2.

Training in social determinants of health in primary care: does it change resident behavior?

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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Division of General and Community Pediatrics, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.



The aim of this study was to examine the effects of a new social determinants of health curriculum on pediatric interns' attitudes, knowledge, documentation, and clinical practice.


A nonrandomized mixed-methods study of an educational intervention conducted over a 1-year period was performed. The 2008-2009 pediatric interns (intervention group) participated in a new social determinants of health curriculum; prior year interns were controls. An anonymous online survey at the end of internship to both groups (post-tests) and the beginning of internship to the intervention group (pretest) assessed attitudes and knowledge. Documentation from the electronic medical record of social history questions was audited during the same 3-month period in successive years. Medical-legal partnership (MLP) referrals from both groups were compared.


Intervention interns (n = 20) were more comfortable discussing issues (100% vs. 71%; P < .01) and felt more knowledgeable regarding issues (100% vs. 64%; P = .005), community resources (94% vs. 29%; P < .001), and housing (39% vs. 6%; P = .04) than control group interns (n = 18). No differences regarding the importance of social hardships or screening for food security or education issues were found. Knowledge was greater in the intervention group post-test in all domains: benefits (72% vs. 52%), housing (48% vs. 21%), and education (52% vs. 33%; P < .001 for all). Intervention interns were more likely to document each issue (benefits 98% vs. 60%, housing 93% vs. 57%, food 74% vs. 56%; P < .001 for all). The intervention group had a slightly higher rate of referral to MLP, although the difference did not reach statistical significance.


The educational intervention increased interns' comfort and knowledge of social determinants of health and community resources. Documentation of social questions also increased.

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