Social determinants of health in pulmonary arterial hypertension patients in the United States: Clinician perspective and health policy implications

Vijay R. Nadipelli, Jean M. Elwing, Willie H. Oglesby, Karim El-Kersh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social determinants of health (SDoH) can impact the vulnerable pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) population, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers' understanding of SDoH at the point of care and their impact is unknown. We conducted semi-structured virtual interviews with US clinicians at 17 pulmonary hypertension (PH) centers and one patient advocate from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. We sought participants' perspective on SDoH in PAH and their impact. Transcripts were developed and analyzed for key themes to assess potential policy implications. Participants served a large PAH population and demonstrated high awareness of SDoH and its impact on treatment and outcomes. They reported that patients' SDoH, including socioeconomic status, health insurance, access to health care, education levels, health literacy, employment status, and insecurities associated with housing, food, transportation, and family support, impacted health and well-being. COVID-19-related social isolation, mental health, and substance abuse contributed to significant inequities in care provision and outcomes. While telemedicine helped clinicians manage patients remotely during the pandemic, there was a concern for patients with limited access to this medium. Participants reported no formal screening for SDoH at the point of care. With the recognition and the desire to act upon health inequities associated with SDoH, participants felt that it was vital for their centers to have a dedicated PH social worker and support staff to optimize care and outcomes. An approach that integrates SDoH in PAH care management, streamlined through institutional policy, could address health disparities leading to improved healthcare access, outcomes, and quality of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12111
JournalPulmonary Circulation
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • health equity
  • healthcare disparities
  • population health
  • rare disease
  • social needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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