13 Sep USPSTF: Identifying Social Risk Factors Key to Improving Health Equity
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Karina W. Davidson, Ph.D., M.A.Sc.
Professor of Behavioral Medicine
Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra University/Northwell Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The social and economic conditions in someone’s life, such as whether or not they have secure food, housing, or transportation, can affect their health in multiple ways. As part of our commitment to improving health equity, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force took two key steps.
We both thoroughly reviewed the existing research around screening and interventions for social risk factors, and audited our own portfolio of recommendation statements to determine how and how often social risks have been considered in the past. This information serves as a benchmark and foundation for our ongoing work to further advance health equity through our methods and recommendations.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The Task Force knows that we can’t successfully improve the care and well-being of people nationwide without a focus on advancing and achieving health equity. While there are multiple ways that we can and have incorporated social risks in our recommendations already, we are working to do so in a more systematic way moving forward. By directing our attention to the ways that social risks are addressed in preventive care recommendations, we hope to help improve the health of diverse communities.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: The Task Force identified several key areas where additional research is necessary so that we can incorporate social risks more systematically into our future recommendations. For example, we need more accurate screening tools that can identify social risks, as well as research examining any potential harms of related screening or treatment. Importantly, we also need more evidence about how to make a real difference for people with social risks, such as studies that look at what really works to improve how well and how long they live. The Task Force hopes that new research in these areas will allow us to develop recommendations that can further strengthen people’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: The Task Force’s focus on strengthening how we incorporate social risks into our recommendation development process and resulting recommendations is one part of our larger work to address issues of health equity, including those related to systemic racism and sex and gender. We are strengthening our processes and calling for the thoughtful, nuanced research necessary to support the creation of recommendations that can improve the quality of healthcare for all.
Davidson KW, Krist AH, Tseng C, et al. Incorporation of Social Risk in US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations and Identification of Key Challenges for Primary Care. JAMA. Published online September 01, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.12833
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