What are Social Determinants of Health?

What are Social Determinants of Health?

July 16, 2020

photo of people standing in a busy areaHealthy People 2020 highlights the importance of addressing “social determinants of health” by including “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” as one of its four goals for the decade.

But, what does this mean?

“Social determinants of health are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.” Conditions in these various settings can be known as “place.” “Place” goes beyond material attributes to also include the patterns of social interaction and sense of well-being and security. Resources that are inherent to “place” and enhance the quality of life can have immense impact on population health outcomes. Understanding how population groups and “place” interact as well as the impact of “place” on health is key to understanding the social determinants of health.

Examples of social determinants include:
• Availability of resources to meet daily needs
• Access to health care services
• Social norms and attitudes
• Residential segregation
• Culture

Examples of physical determinants include;
• Natural environment
• Housing and community design
• Exposure to toxic substances and other physical hazards
• Aesthetic elements

Healthy People 2020 emphasizes a “place-based” organizing framework reflecting five key areas of social determinants of health. Each area reflects a number of key issues that make up social determinants of health.
• Economic stability
• Education
• Social and community context
• Health and health care
• Neighborhood and built environment,

To learn more about social determinants of health as well as Healthy People 2020’s tools and strategies to address them visit Healthy People 2020.

About the Author: Karen Hinshaw

Karen Hinshaw

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