The First Step to Helping: Asking about poverty.
CPS ePoster Library. Teicher J. Jun 22, 2016; 128199; 129
Jessica Teicher
Jessica Teicher
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Abstract
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Background: Canadian children living in poverty are more likely to experience poor health outcomes. Physicians have a unique opportunity to screen for poverty and other social determinants of health (SDOH) in order to intervene early and change their patients' health trajectories. It is well known in the literature to date that addressing SDOH in clinical practice can improve health outcomes, however, significant barriers have been identified that limit a physician's ability to address these issues.The Child Poverty Assessment Tool (CPAT) was developed by an inter-professional team of physicians, social workers and community child health agency partners to provide healthcare providers with screening questions for the SDOH and resources to address identified SDOH needs. The tool was created to support physicians with links to the community and simple screening approaches to common social issues.

Objectives: To develop an understanding of physicians' current SDOH screening practices and attitudes to screening for the SDOH in clinical practice;To explore the feasibility, accessibility, and relevance of the CPAT for paediatricians at an academic health science centre.

Methods: Using a qualitative grounded theory approach, seven consultant academic paediatricians were individually interviewed. The interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide, and were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two team members independently coded the transcripts for recurrent themes. This project was undertaken as a Quality Improvement project and was conducted with appropriate ethical approval.

Result: Three major themes emerged regarding benefits of screening for SDOH: improved assessment of social issues, increased referrals to community supports and agencies, and appropriate modifications to treatment plans as informed by social issues. In addition to limiting billing models and time constraints, five major themes were identified as challenges to screening for SDOH: lack of knowledge of resources, upsetting family expectations, the physician's own comfort in asking questions regarding the SDOH, the biomedical model of training, and physicians' understanding of their scope of practice. The CPAT was found to address some, but not all of these challenges.

Conclusion: The results from the project elucidated important factors that influence the SDOH screening practices of paediatricians. While a structured tool (i.e. the CPAT) may provide support to physicians conducting screening, systemic and medical cultural barriers exist. Further research is needed to examine the effectiveness of implementing screening tools in clinical practice, and to identify solutions for systemic barriers to screening for poverty in paediatric populations.
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