Screening for Health-Related Social Needs of Emergency Department Patients.

Document Type


Publication Date



Emergency Medicine

Journal Title

Annals of emergency medicine

MeSH Headings

Humans, Emergency Service, Hospital, Mass Screening, Research


STUDY OBJECTIVE: There has been increasing attention to screening for health-related social needs. However, little is known about the screening practices of emergency departments (EDs). Within New England, we seek to identify the prevalence of ED screening for health-related social needs, understand the factors associated with screening, and understand how screening patterns for health-related social needs differ from those for violence, substance use, and mental health needs.

METHODS: We analyzed data from the 2018 National Emergency Department Inventory-New England survey, which was administered to all 194 New England EDs during 2019. We used descriptive statistics to compare ED characteristics by screening practices, and multivariable logistic regression models to identify factors associated with screening.

RESULTS: Among the 166 (86%) responding EDs, 64 (39%) reported screening for at least one health-related social need, 160 (96%) for violence (including intimate partner violence or other violent exposures), 148 (89%) for substance use disorder, and 159 (96%) for mental health needs. EDs reported a wide range of social work resources to address identified needs, with 155 (93%) reporting any social worker availability and 41 (27%) reporting continuous availability.

CONCLUSION: New England EDs are screening for health-related social needs at a markedly lower rate than for violence, substance use, and mental health needs. EDs have relatively limited resources available to address health-related social needs. We encourage research on the development of scalable solutions for identifying and addressing health-related social needs in the ED.