Screening for housing issues with families in health and social service settings: a systematic review

BMJ Journals
Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMJ Open, 2022, 12, (4), pp. 1-22
Issue Date:
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Background : Housing is a social determinant of health that impacts the health and wellbeing of families and children. Screening and referral to address social determinants of health in healthcare and social service settings has been proposed to support families with housing problems. A systematic review was conducted to catalogue housing screening questions asked of families in healthcare and social service settings, determine if any validated screening tools exist and extract information about any recommendations for action after screening. Methods: The electronic databases MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Ovid Emcare, Scopus and CINAHL were searched from 2009 to 2019. Inclusion criteria were peerreviewed literature that included questions about housing being asked of children or young people aged 0-18 years old and their families accessing any health or social service. We extracted data on the housing questions asked, source of housing questions, validity of questions and tools, descriptions of actions to address housing issues. Findings: Twenty-three peer-reviewed papers met the inclusion criteria. The housing questions in social screening tools vary widely. There are no standard housing-related questions that healthcare and social service providers ask families. Nine screening tools were validated. An action was included as part of 10 social screening tools. Actions for identified housing problems included provision of a community resource guide, referral to a social worker or social service agency, or referral to a housing and child welfare demonstration project. Conclusion : This review provides a catalogue of housing questions and subsequent referral and actions that healthcare and/or social service providers can ask families who may be experiencing housing problems.
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