Collecting Psychosocial “Vital Signs” in Electronic Health Records: Why Now? What Are They? What’s New for Psychology?

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Abstract

Social, psychological, and behavioral factors are recognized as key contributors to health, but they are rarely measured in a systematic way in health care settings. Electronic health records (EHRs) can be used in these settings to routinely collect a standardized set of social, psychological, and behavioral determinants of health. The expanded use of EHRs provides opportunities to improve individual and population health, and offers new ways for the psychological community to engage in health promotion and disease prevention efforts. This article addresses 3 issues. First, it discusses what led to current efforts to include measures of psychosocial and behavioral determinants of health in EHRs. Second, it presents recommendations of an Institute of Medicine committee regarding inclusion in EHRS of a panel of measures that meet a priori criteria. Third, it identifies new opportunities and challenges these recommendations present for psychologists in practice and research.

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