Reconsidering What Is Vital About Vital Signs in Electronic Health Records: Comment on Matthews et al. (2016)
The inclusion of psychosocial variables into electronic health records provides a unique opportunity for the translation of findings from social, psychological, and behavioral domains into patient care. This commentary is a response to the recommendations of a committee convened by the Institute of Medicine to address this opportunity (Matthews, Adler, Forrest, & Stead, 2016). We concur with the committee that the inclusion of psychosocial variables in electronic health records will broadly benefit researchers, practitioners, and patients and that there is clear need for a recommended panel of psychosocial measures that is ready for implementation in clinical settings. In fact, it seems likely that these recommendations will have lasting consequences. Given this, our response highlights several concerns about the recommendations and criteria. We suggest further clarification of the audience for these recommendations, reconsideration of the overly restrictive inclusion criteria, and more extensive engagement of psychosocial researchers to achieve broader consensus.