Impacts of the Pandemic on Social Determinants of Health in an Academic Emergency Department
Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Impacts of the Pandemic on Social Determinants of Health in an Academic Emergency Department



Introduction. The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused significant disruptions in daily life. Given the role that social determinants of health play in the overall well-being of individuals and populations, we wanted to determine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our patient population in the emergency department (ED).


Methods: We adapted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services social risk assessment to assess changes to participants’ social situations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic from January 2020–February 2021. The survey was administered within the ED to individuals selected by a convenience sample of patients who were stable enough to complete the form.


Results: We received 200 (66%) responses from the 305 patients approached. Worsened food access was reported by 8.5% (17) of respondents, while 13.6% (27) reported worsened food concern since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The odds of worsened food access were higher among non-Whites (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 19.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.33-110.53) and females (aOR 9.77, CI 1.51-63.44). Non-Whites had greater odds of worsened food concern (aOR 15.31, CI 3.94-59.54). Worsened financial difficulty was reported by 24% (48) of respondents. The odds of worsened financial difficulty were higher among females (aOR 2.87, 95% CI 1.08-7.65) and non-Whites (aOR 10.53, CI 2.75-40.35).


Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened many of the social determinants of health found within communities. Moreover, vulnerable communities were found to be disproportionately affected as compared to their counterparts. Understanding the challenges faced by our patient populations can serve as a guide on how to assist them more comprehensively.


Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View