Health Serv Res. 2023 Sep 16. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.14232. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the national rate of social risk factor screening adoption among federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), examine organizational factors associated with social risk screening adoption, and identify barriers to utilizing a standardized screening tool in 2020.
DATA SOURCE: 2020 Uniform Data System, a 100% sample of all US FQHCs (N = 1375).
STUDY DESIGN: We used multivariable linear probability models to assess the association between social risk screening adoption and key FQHC characteristics. We used descriptive statistics to describe variations in screening tool types and barriers to utilizing standardized tools. We thematically categorized open-ended responses about tools and barriers.
DATA COLLECTION: None.
PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In 2020, 68.9% of FQHCs screened patients for any social risk factors. Characteristics associated with a greater likelihood of screening adoption included having high proportions of patients best served in a language other than English (18.8 percentage point [PP] increase, 95% CI: 6.0, 31.6) and being larger in size (10.3 PP increase, 95% CI: 0.7, 20.0). Having higher proportions of uninsured patients (14.2 PP decrease, 95% CI: -25.5, -0.3) and participating in Medicaid-managed care contracts (7.3 PP decrease, 95% CI: -14.2, -0.3) were associated with lower screening likelihood. Among screening FQHCs, the Protocol for Responding to and Assessing Patients’ Assets, Risks, and Experiences (PRAPARE) was the most common tool (47.1%). Among non-screening FQHCs, common barriers to using a standardized tool included lack of staff training to discuss social issues (25.2%), inability to include screening in patient intake (21.7%), and lack of funding for addressing social needs (19.2%).
CONCLUSIONS: Though most FQHCs screened for social risk factors in 2020, various barriers have prevented nearly 1 in 3 FQHCs from adopting a screening tool. Policies that provide FQHCs with resources to support training and workflow changes may increase screening uptake and facilitate engagement with other sectors.