Skip to main content


Table 4 Proposed topics for taking a more complete social history

From: Screening for social determinants of health in clinical care: moving from the margins to the mainstream

1. Individual characteristics • Self-defined race or ethnicity • Place of birth or nationality • Primary spoken language • English literacy • Life experiences (education, job history, military service, traumatic or life-shaping experiences) • Gender identification and sexual practices 2. Life circumstances • Marital status and children • Family structure, obligations, and stresses • Housing environment and safety • Food security • Legal and immigration issues • Employment (number of jobs, work hours, stresses/concerns about work) 3. Emotional health • Emotional state and history of mental illness (e.g., depression, anxiety, trauma, post-traumatic stress) • Causes of recent and long-term stress • Positive or negative social network: individual, family, community • Religious affiliation and spiritual beliefs 4. Perception of health care • Life goals & priorities; ranking health among other life priorities • Personal sense of health or fears regarding health care • Perceived or desired role for health care providers • Perceptions of medication and medical technology • Positive or negative health care experiences • Alternative care practices • Advance directives for cardiopulmonary resuscitation 5. Health-related behaviors • Sense of healthy or unhealthy behaviors • Facilitators of health promotion (e.g., behaviors among peers) • Triggers for harmful behaviors and motivation to change (determined through motivational interviewing) • Diet and exercise habits • Facilitators or barriers to medication adherence • Tobacco, alcohol, drug use habits • Safety precautions: seatbelts, helmets, firearms, street violence 6. Access to and utilization of health care • Health insurance status • Medication access and affordability • Health literacy and numeracy • Barriers to making appointments (e.g., child care, work allowance, affordability of copayment, transportation)
  1. Adapted from reference [27]