Gen Z wants healthcare practitioners to inquire about food, housing, and…

Gen Z wants healthcare practitioners to inquire about food, housing, and safety, among other things

Their parents and grandparents were probably never asked by a doctor or nurse if they had enough to eat, if they lived in a safe and stable environment, if they were discriminated against, or if anything was impeding their education.

A new poll shows that most members of Generation Z want their doctors to ask about these problems and most want their doctors to give them information or referrals to programs that can help with these problems.

Most people also understand why these “social determinants of health,” as they’re known, are so crucial to overall health.

The results of the poll, which were published in the June issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health by a team from the University of Michigan, were based on data from the U-M Department of Family Medicine’s MyVoice National Poll of Youth.

In March 2021, over 1,000 young people aged 14 to 24 responded to five open-ended questions by text messaging. Nearly 39% of respondents hailed from families that qualified for free or reduced-price school lunches based on national guidelines.

According to the poll, housing, food, education, safety, and prejudice were all issues that might affect a person’s health in the short and long term, as well as their capacity to seek care and adhere to treatment regimens.

Overall, 81 percent of young people believe providers should inquire about such factors. Almost a third indicated that embarrassment would prevent them from seeking treatment if they were having similar problems.

Furthermore, a quarter of respondents said they would like providers to provide resources for people with social needs, and a nearly similar number said providers should share information about services that can help people with such needs.

Finally, in-person information on aid or social dangers was the most frequently indicated preference among kids, but they were also open to phone, email, and handouts.

Claire Chang, the first author and a medical student at the University of Michigan, says, “It seems self-evident that addressing social requirements in clinical settings, such as food and housing, would improve patients.”

However, we don’t know whether or not patients would desire this kind of help, or how they would want it delivered. Youth in our study said they wished to talk to their doctors about social determinants of health. As social/medical care integration efforts extend across the country, it’s critical that we grasp these preferences and desires.

As part of their treatment, more and more health systems and clinics, like Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, are now checking for SDOHs.

Tammy Chang, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., the poll’s director and a U-M family medicine physician, agrees. My adolescent and young adult patients tell me that they want me to ask them questions about things other than their health.

They want me to inquire about their personal lives, “she explains. “This gives doctors and other healthcare workers a better understanding of the fundamental causes of the problems that today’s youth face.” Youth in our study didn’t want providers to address their problems; instead, they expected them to simply listen. That is something I am capable of. “