Journal Articles

Publication Date



Journal of General Internal Medicine


BACKGROUND: Integration of health-related social needs (HRSNs) data into clinical care is recognized as a driver for improving healthcare. However, few published studies on HRSNs and their impact are available. CMS sought to fill this gap through the Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model, a national RCT of HRSN screening, referral, and navigation. Data from the AHC Model could significantly advance the field of HRSN screening and intervention in the USA.

OBJECTIVE: to present data from the Greater Houston AHC (GH-AHC) Model site on HRSN frequency and the association between HRSNs, sociodemographic factors, and self-reported ED utilization using a cross-sectional design. Analyses included descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression.

PARTICIPANTS (OR PATIENTS OR SUBJECTS): All community-dwelling Medicare, Medicaid, or dually covered beneficiaries at participating GH-AHC clinical delivery sites were eligible.

MAIN MEASURES: Self-reported ED utilization in the previous 12 months served as the outcome; demographic characteristics including race, ethnicity, age, sex, income, education level, number of people living in the household, and insurance type were treated as covariates. HRSNs included food insecurity, housing instability, transportation, difficulty paying utility bills, and interpersonal safety. Clinical delivery site type was used as the clustering variable.

KEY RESULTS: Food insecurity was the most common HRSN identified (38.7%) followed by housing instability (29.0%), transportation (28.0%), and difficulty paying utility bills (26.7%). Interpersonal safety was excluded due to low prevalence. More than half of the beneficiaries (56.9%) reported at least one of the four HRSNs. After controlling for covariates, having multiple co-occurring HRSNs was strongly associated with increased risk of two or more ED visits (OR 1.8-9.47 for two to four needs, respectively; p < 0.001). Beneficiaries with four needs were at almost 10 times higher risk of frequent ED utilization (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: to our knowledge, this is only the second published study to report screening data from the AHC Model. Future research focused on the impact of multiple co-occurring needs on health outcomes is warranted.


Aged, United States, Humans, Medicaid, Medicare, Cross-Sectional Studies, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Housing



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