Publication Date



Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health


INTRODUCTION: The Emergency Department (ED) acts as a safety net for our healthcare system. While studies have shown increased prevalence of social risks and needs among ED patients, there are many outstanding questions about the validity and use of social risks and needs screening tools in the ED setting.

METHODS: In this paper, we present research gaps and priorities pertaining to social risks and needs screening tools used in the ED, identified through a consensus approach informed by literature review and external expert feedback as part of the 2021 SAEM Consensus Conference -- From Bedside to Policy: Advancing Social Emergency Medicine and Population Health.

RESULTS: Four overarching research gaps were identified: (1) Defining the purpose and ethical implications of ED-based screening; (2) Identifying domains of social risks and needs; (3) Developing and validating screening tools; and (4) Defining the patient population and type of screening performed. Furthermore, the following research questions were determined to be of highest priority: (1) What screening tools should be used to identify social risks and needs? (2) Should individual EDs use a national standard screening tools or customized screening tools? (3) What are the most prevalent social risks and needs in the ED? and (4) Which social risks and needs are most amenable to intervention in the ED setting?

CONCLUSION: Answering these research questions will facilitate the use of evidence-based social risks and needs screening tools that address knowledge gaps and improve the health of our communities by better understanding the underlying determinants contributing to their presentation and health outcomes.


Humans, Social Determinants of Health, Mass Screening, Research, Delivery of Health Care, Emergency Service, Hospital



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