Addressing the Social Needs of Spanish- and English-Speaking Families in Pediatric Primary Care

Sarah Polk, Kathryn M. Leifheit, Rachel Thornton, Barry S. Solomon, Lisa DeCamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the social needs of families working with Health Leads (HL) at 18 pediatric practices in 9 US cities and how reported social needs and success addressing them varied according to parents’ preferred health care language. Methods: We evaluated the social needs of English and Spanish speakers who received assistance from HL from September 2013 to August 2015. The study sample included 11,661 households in the 4 regions where HL provided support within pediatric primary care practices. We used multivariable regression stratified by region to assess the association between language and successful resource connections. Results: Reported social needs differed by language. Spanish speakers most frequently reported needs related to food (eg, food stamps, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and food pantries). English speakers most frequently reported child-related needs (eg, childcare vouchers, Head Start, and school enrollment). The association between household language and the odds of a successful resource connection varied by region. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the importance of considering language barriers and community context when addressing unmet social needs as part of primary care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1170-1176
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic pediatrics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Latino
  • limited English proficiency
  • pediatric primary care
  • social determinants of health
  • social/resource needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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