Screening for Social Determinants of Health among Children and Families Living in Poverty: A Guide for Clinicians

Esther K. Chung, Benjamin S. Siegel, Arvin Garg, Kathleen Conroy, Rachel S. Gross, Dayna A. Long, Gena Lewis, Cynthia J. Osman, Mary Jo Messito, Roy Wade, H. Shonna Yin, Joanne Cox, Arthur H. Fierman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


Approximately 20% of all children in the United States live in poverty, which exists in rural, urban, and suburban areas. Thus, all child health clinicians need to be familiar with the effects of poverty on health and to understand associated, preventable, and modifiable social factors that impact health. Social determinants of health are identifiable root causes of medical problems. For children living in poverty, social determinants of health for which clinicians may play a role include the following: child maltreatment, child care and education, family financial support, physical environment, family social support, intimate partner violence, maternal depression and family mental illness, household substance abuse, firearm exposure, and parental health literacy. Children, particularly those living in poverty, exposed to adverse childhood experiences are susceptible to toxic stress and a variety of child and adult health problems, including developmental delay, asthma and heart disease. Despite the detrimental effects of social determinants on health, few child health clinicians routinely address the unmet social and psychosocial factors impacting children and their families during routine primary care visits. Clinicians need tools to screen for social determinants of health and to be familiar with available local and national resources to address these issues. These guidelines provide an overview of social determinants of health impacting children living in poverty and provide clinicians with practical screening tools and resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-153
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • AAFP American Academy of Family Physicians
  • AAP American Academy of Pediatrics
  • ACE Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • AHRQ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • APA Academic Pediatric Association
  • CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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