A new survey conducted by the University of Michigan found 81 percent of people ages 14-24 want their health care providers to ask about their social needs.

The younger generation wants support around issues such as food, housing, safety, and other social determinants of health (SDoH), according to recent survey findings from the University of Michigan. The results, published by the Journal of Adolescent Health, are centered on data from the MyVoice National Poll of Youth. The poll consisted of five open-ended questions around key SDoH, including housing, food security, education, safety, and discrimination, via text message to more than 1,000 people ages 14 to 24 in March 2021.  

The biggest takeaway: Younger patients want to be asked about more than just their physical health. Of those polled, 81 percent said they want their health providers to ask about their SDoH. For some, it’s the only way they may get support, as a third of the individuals said embarrassment around their social needs would stop them from seeking help.

“As a doctor, what I hear is my adolescent and young adult patients want me to ask them about more than their health. They want me to ask about their lives,” said poll director and family medicine physician at U-M Tammy Chang, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., in a statement. "This opens a door for doctors and other health care 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.”

A quarter of respondents also said they would like their providers to share resources with them for assistance with SDoH. As for their preferred method to receive information, the most common preference was in-person, followed by phone, email, and handouts.