The Academy of Prevention and Health Promotion Therapies is getting ready to kick off the next #PopHLTHchat. This time around, we’ll be discussing the social determinants of health (#SDOH). This short blog will briefly introduce this profound topic, and entice your engagement.
A key concept to understand is that healthcare does not equate to a good health. The United States spends FAR more on healthcare than any other nation, yet our health outcomes (life expectancy depicted in graphic below) are not among the best in the world.
To understand why this is, we need to understand all the drivers of health. While healthcare is an essential component of health, it is also only a small piece of a large health puzzle.
In addition to healthcare, key components of health include social and environmental factors, individual behaviors, and genetics. I like the graphic above because it represents these key health components in a circle. They are truly interdependent and interactive. For example, the advice to exercise more may be very sound advice. However, the practicality of it will be affected by an individual’s environment including neighborhood walkability, neighborhood safety, accessibility, design, transportation, social support, and more. The graphic below lists more examples of social determinants of health. These all interact to influence health outcomes at the individual and population levels.
Large discrepancies in social determinants of health between different social groups result in disturbing health disparities. It’s interesting that your zip code may impact your health more than your genetic code. It’s alarming at just how much of a difference this can make. For instance, one report found an 18-year difference in life expectancy between two St. Louis communities a mere 9 miles apart. Addressing social determinants of health is important for achieving greater health equity. Population-based approaches and targeted solutions focused on vulnerable communities experiencing great disparities are needed to allow every person an equitable opportunity for health.
If you’d like to learn more about how the social determinants are affecting your community, I recommend searching for your community health needs assessment. Simply google your city or county’s name followed by “community health needs assessment” and you will quickly find some relevant documents. For further info, check out this article from the Kaiser Family Foundation and/or this podcast episode from the Institute of Clinical Excellence featuring APHPT member Mark Milligan.
The APHPT is an organization of driven individuals committed to a fundamentally different way to care. Addressing social determinants of health is a key component of our mission and vision to create a healthier, stronger world. We look forward to engaging and learning with you!
Aaron Perez, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS; @AaronPerezPT on Twitter
If you missed the last #PopHLTHchat of 2017, check out some highlights below: