Patient Centered Assessment Method [PCAM] Online:

Bringing the social determinants of health into primary care

The Patient Centered Assessment Method, PCAM, is a tool medical practitioners can use to assess patient complexity using the social determinants of health that often explain why some patients engage and respond well in managing their health while others with the same or similar health conditions do not experience the same outcomes. Understanding the patient’s health and wellbeing (lifestyle behaviors, impact of their physical health on their mental health, their ability to enjoy daily activities), their social environment (status of employment, housing, transportation, social networks), and their health literacy and communication skills (understanding of their symptoms and risk factors, language and cultural differences, learning difficulties) may indicate other factors that are affecting the person’s ability to manage their health.

Patient complexity may be due to multiple chronic medical conditions, it may be due social and environmental factors and it is very likely a combination of both. Factors that interfere with a patient’s usual care and decision-making can make providing health care more difficult and complex and can impact the patient’s health and recovery. As a provider, learning these factors and addressing them as part of the patient’s medical care holds promise for improving patient health and improving patient-provider relationships.

The PCAM is a systematic tool to identify these factors and their impact on patients. It offers providers a method to better understand their patient’s needs beyond their medical condition(s). It is action oriented with the final section focused on the actions that can be taken to address the needs and issues identified in the assessment as well as the level of service coordination needed to ensure referrals can be practically accessed by the patient.

How Can I Use PCAM?

PCAM is copyrighted, and the developer team is committed to it being freely available for use.  PCAM is best implemented with the support of training for clinicians, and consideration of how systems support the integration of the tool. We do ask you contact the team to inform and involve us where possible, as we strive to develop and support learning partnerships about how PCAM is used, improved and further our understanding of how it impacts patient outcomes.

Our Training Resources page contains a number of resources and training tools you can download and use for your training and implementation. We are available to consult with you as you consider your implementation of the PCAM tool in your practice.


Download the PCAM tool here