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Impacts of a medical-legal partnership on clinical capacity to address social determinants of health
  1. Kara Davis1,2,
  2. Melissa L Fair1,
  3. Catie Buckingham1,3,
  4. Hannah McKinnon1,
  5. Laurie Theriot Roley4,
  6. Kerry Sease5,6
  1. 1 Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3 Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4 Center for Success in Aging, Prisma Health, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
  5. 5 Children's Hospital, Prisma Health, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
  6. 6 University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Kara Davis, Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, Furman University, Greenville 29613, USA; kara.davis{at}


Background Social determinants of health (SDOHs) impacts on an individual’s health outcomes have become more evident, and clinical providers are vital in helping patients address those needs. Providers are experiencing high-stress levels related to patient care, resulting in a diminished capacity to address these SDOHs. This study examines the impact of a medical-legal partnership (MLP) on the clinical capacity to assist providers with addressing SDOH needs and reducing clinician stress.

Methods A 16-question survey was emailed to 532 providers in a local health system. The survey assessed clinicians’ perception of their role in addressing SDOH needs, the MLP’s impact on their clinical capacity and the MLP’s ability to remedy patient SDOH needs.

Results Providers who have referred to the MLP indicated higher levels of agreement that SDOH screenings were part of their clinical responsibility and had higher levels of agreement regarding comfort levels for completing SDOH screenings. Geriatric providers reported higher levels of agreement that the MLP reduced clinician stress than paediatric providers.

Conclusion MLPs have the potential to reduce clinician stress and burnout by standing in the gap to assist providers in addressing their patient’s SDOH needs.

  • public health
  • health
  • screening

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  • Contributors KD and MLF accept full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, has access to the data and controlled the decision to publish. All authors interpreted the data, as well as edited and approved the final article. MLF, CB, LTR and KS conceptualised and designed the study. KD, MLF and HM drafted the initial manuscript. MLF and CB designed the methods section. KD analysed the data. KD, MLF, HM and CB reviewed and revised the manuscript. LTR and KS critically reviewed the manuscript for important intellectual content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.