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  1. Mapp, Alexandra M. MPH
  2. Moore, Christopher BA
  3. Booker, Erin LPC
  4. Santiago, Cindy
  5. Baker, Dawn
  6. Salvatore, Alicia L. DrPH, MPH


Context: Unmet legal needs can exacerbate health disparities and contribute to a lack of adherence to treatment plans and medical recommendations for care. Medical legal partnerships (MLPs) are integrated health care and legal aid interventions offered by many health systems in the United States. Although much research has been published regarding the success of MLPs with specific patient groups, there is a gap in literature regarding the nature of MLPs in a more general, at-risk patient population.


Objective: We aimed to better understand specific patient characteristics and health outcomes associated with different iHELP legal needs.


Design: This is a cross-sectional study of patients who were enrolled in the Delaware MLP (DMLP) from November 2018 to June 2020 (N = 212).


Setting: The DMLP is a collaboration between ChristianaCare, a Mid-Atlantic health system, and the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc (CLASI).


Participants: Patients must be adults (ie, 18 years or older), below 200% of the federal poverty level (eg, <=$53 000 for a household of 4 as of 2021), have at least one qualifying legal need, and live in the state.


Intervention: The DMLP is designed to address unmet legal needs that fall under a framework called iHELP. iHELP legal domains are income and insurance (i), housing and utilities (H), education and employment (E), legal status (L), and personal and family stability (P).


Main Outcome Measures: Outcomes of interest were iHELP legal needs, patient demographics, perceived stress and mental and physical health-related quality of life, comorbidities, and health care utilization.


Results: Housing and utilities (46.2%) and income support (41.5%) were the highest reported legal needs. Perceived stress scores were significantly higher for those with income needs (P = .01) as well as those with housing and utilities needs (P = .01).


Conclusions: MLP programs offer a value-added service that can address unmet legal needs in vulnerable, at-risk patients.