Well-Being Longevity

Gen Z wants doctors to discuss food, housing, safety, survey finds

The majority of survey respondents said they believe health care providers should connect patients to resources if need be.
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Story at a glance


  • Researchers from the University of Michigan recently compiled a survey on the role of physicians and screening for social determinants of health. 

  • Researchers found that the overwhelming majority of survey respondents want health care providers to ask patients about access to food and housing.  

  • More than a third of respondents came from low-income families.  

University of Michigan researchers found that most members of Generation Z want their doctors to ask them questions related to “social determinants” of health like access to food and housing.  

In a poll of more than 1,200 young people between the ages of 14 and 24, 81 percent said that health care providers should ask if their patients have access to food and housing, as well as if they are safe at home and have experienced discrimination.  

Those same respondents said they believe physicians should refer patients to resources if they express difficulty accessing food, housing or are in danger at home.  


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“It seems obvious that addressing social needs, like food and housing, in clinical settings would benefit patients,” said Claire Chang, a University of Michigan Medical School student and lead author of the poll. 

“But we actually know very little about whether and how patients would want to receive this kind of assistance. Youth in our study told us that they do want to talk about social determinants of health with their providers. It is important for us to understand these preferences and desires as social/medical care integration efforts spread across the country.” 

The poll findings, which were recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, used data from the University of Michigan’s Department of Family Medicine MyVoice National Poll of Youth. Survey participants were asked to answer five open-ended questions via text message in March of last year.  

Out of all the respondents, 39 percent said they came from families with low enough income levels that would qualify them for free or reduced-price school lunch.  

“As a doctor, what I hear is my adolescent and young adult patients want me to ask them about more than just their health. They want me to ask about their lives,” said Poll director and University of Michigan family medicine doctor Tammy Chang in a statement.  

“This opens a door for doctors and other healthcare providers to really understand the root causes of the issues that young people are facing today. Youth in our study didn’t expect providers to solve their issues, rather, just listen. I can do that.” 


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