Social Determinant Of Health
The conditions in the environments where 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 are social determinants of health (SDOH).
SDOH examples include:
- Housing, transportation, and safe neighborhoods
- Racism, prejudice, and violence
- Education, employment opportunities, and earnings
- Access to nutritious foods and opportunities for physical activity
- Air and water pollution
- Literacy and language skills
SDOH contributes to widespread health disparities and inequities. For example, people who do not have access to grocery stores that sell healthy foods are less likely to be healthy. This increases their risk of health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity and even lowers their life expectancy compared to people who have access to healthy foods.
Simply encouraging healthy lifestyle choices will not eliminate these and other health disparities. Instead, public health organizations and their partners in sectors such as education, transportation, and housing must take action to improve people’s living conditions.
That is why Healthy People 2030 places a greater emphasis on SDOH.
One of the five overarching goals of Healthy People 2030 is specifically related to SDOH: “Create social, physical, and economic environments that encourage all people to reach their full potential for health and well-being.”
In line with this goal, Healthy People 2030 includes several SDOH-related objectives. These goals emphasize the importance of “upstream” factors, typically unrelated to health care delivery, in improving health and reducing health disparities.
These objectives were developed by more than a dozen workgroups comprised of subject matter experts from various backgrounds and areas of expertise. The Social Determinants of Health Workgroup is one of these groups that focuses solely on SDOH.