Social Determinants of Health

Many of us in the health care and economic fields have known for decades that even the best health care, by itself, does not deliver the best outcomes.  About a decade ago, the University of Wisconsin in partnership with JAMA and the Kaiser Family Foundation published the earliest charts of what social factors influence health outcomes.  You may be familiar with smoking and poor diets.  But the Social Determinants of Health #SDOH encompass much more.  

Social determinants very often are predictors of better (or worse) health outcomes.  Some of these include exercise, support community, neighborhood, clean food, clean water… and still more.  You can see the list in the chart below.  

social determinants of health

You can see that these assets (or, risk factors, if they don’t exist) can disable a great diagnosis and treatment plan.  Many of the great success stories in cancer, diabetes, depression and most assuredly, addiction, are successes because they included so many of these factors in order to achieve the success.

When we withhold funding, put barriers to affordability or access, or deny people the basic education, food, or clean water in our great economy, we are hindering their life expectancy and social mobility as well. 

Martin Luther King said it best: 

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health careis the most shocking and inhumane.

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