Using health information technology to bring social determinants of health into primary care: A conceptual framework to guide research

Erika Cottrell, Rachel Gold, Sonja Likumahuwa, Heather Angier, Nathalie Huguet, Deborah Cohen, Khaya D. Clark, Laura M. Gottlieb, Jennifer Devoe

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

8 Scopus citations


Several recent national initiatives have called for increased efforts to integrate social determinants of health (SDH) into health care settings using health information technology (HIT). However, there is limited evidence to guide the implementation of these recommendations in practice. Research is needed to understand what SDH information is most important to collect, how SDH information can be used to inform clinical care and referrals, and ultimately, whether and how integrating SDH screening and action into primary care affects individual and population health. We recently proposed a conceptual framework to illustrate how HIT can be used to bring SDH information into primary care. In this paper, we describe how we are putting this conceptual model into practice within the OCHIN network of community health centers by highlighting examples of ongoing research, identifying knowledge gaps, and outlining a roadmap of future research to move the field forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-963
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018



  • Electronic health records
  • Health information technology
  • Primary care
  • Social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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