Screening for Both Child Behavior and Social Determinants of Health in Pediatric Primary Care : Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics

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Original Article

Screening for Both Child Behavior and Social Determinants of Health in Pediatric Primary Care

Berger-Jenkins, Evelyn MD, MPH*; Monk, Catherine PhD; D'Onfro, Katherine MPH; Sultana, Majeda MS§; Brandt, Lisa MD; Ankam, Jyoti MBBS; Vazquez, Nadiuska LCSW**; Lane, Mariellen MD*; Meyer, Dodi MD*

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Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 40(6):p 415-424, July/August 2019. | DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000676



To implement comprehensive screening for child behavior and social determinants of health in an urban pediatric practice and explore rates of referrals and follow-up for positive screens.


Quality improvement methodology was used to implement routine screening using an adapted version of the Survey of Well Being of Young Children, a child behavior and social screen, for all children aged 6 months to 10 years. Rates of screen administration and documentation were assessed for 18 months. Medical records of a convenience sample (N = 349) were reviewed to track referrals and follow-up for positive screens. A secondary analysis explored associations between reported parental concern for their child's behavior and both child behavior symptoms and social stressors.


Over 18 months, 2028 screens were administered. Screening rates reached 90% after introducing a tablet for screening. Provider documentation of screens averaged 62%. In the convenience sample, 28% scored positive for a behavioral problem, and 25% reported at least 1 social stressor. Of those with positive child behavior or social stressor screens, approximately 80% followed up with their primary medical doctor, and approximately 50% completed referrals to the clinic social worker. Further analysis indicated that referral and follow-up rates varied depending on whether the family identified child behavior or social issues. Logistic regression revealed that parental concern was independently associated with child behavior symptoms (p = 0.001) and social stressors (p = 0.002).


Implementing a comprehensive psychosocial screen is feasible in pediatric primary care and may help target referrals to address psychosocial health needs.

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

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