Social Determinants of Health

What are Social Determinants of Health aka (SDOH)

Social determinants of health are factors or conditions that exist where we are born, raised, live, work, play, learn, and worship that can affect our health and quality of life.

For example, the 2010 Haitian earthquake created conditions that put survivors at risk for health and quality of life issues. Hence, Hatiti experienced a significant Cholera outbreak that began in October 2010. The outbreak resulted in 820,000 suspected cases with 9,000 deaths from contaminated water related to basic human activity.

Accordingly, we regularly monitor several SDOH factors which have the potential for significant impact on health outcomes. The list is not all-inclusive but includes areas where change has the potential for a positive impact. 

What are the Social Determinants of Health in your neighborhood?

SDOH - Healthcare Access and Quality

What are healthcare access and quality? Healthcare access and quality are the connection between your access to and understanding of health services and your own health. It includes such factors as health insurance coverage, access to primary care, and health literacy.


For instance, a lack of health insurance coverage can have negative health consequences for you and your children. It is well documented that uninsured adults are less likely to receive preventive services and wait to seek care at more advanced stages of the disease. Likewise, children without health insurance are less likely to receive appropriate treatment for conditions such as asthma or critical preventive care such as immunizations, and well-child visits.

Additionally, when the ratio of provider to population is high, the more difficult it becomes to get an appointment. Consequently, the more likely you may be to forego seeking treatment or preventive care altogether. Ultimately this can result in a decrease in the length and quality of your life.

SDOH - Economic Stability

What is economic stability? Economic stability is the connection between your financial resources – income, cost of living, and socioeconomic status – and your health. It includes such factors as unemployment, poverty, food insecurity, and housing instability.


For example, the gender pay gap measures the difference in wages earned by females compared with males. Even though women make up the majority of college-educated adults in the U.S., pay inequity remains an issue. Women who earn less for the same work as men are more likely to suffer from mood disorders. Also, large gaps are associated with poorer self-rated health, worse mortality outcomes, and increased disability. With a more equitable distribution of wages, overall health and quality of life have the potential for significant improvement.

Additionally, areas with high unemployment rates statistically have higher rates of stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and arthritis, as well as anxiety and depression. Lower unemployment rates have a direct correlation with improved health outcomes including morbidity and mortality.

Similarly, high rates of children eligible for free and reduced-price lunches are demonstrative of a higher percentage of the population having food insecurity. High levels of food insecurity have a direct impact on health and quality of life for those experiencing the insecurity. In children, food insecurity can impair child development and increases the risk of poor health outcomes overall.

SDOH - Education

What is education? It is “the connection of education to health and wellbeing” (CDC). It includes such factors as high school graduation rates, enrollment in higher education, educational attainment in general, language and literacy, as well as early childhood education and development.

Given that, the relationship between higher education and improved health outcomes is well established. The more years of formal education you have directly correlate with more opportunities, reduced psychosocial stress, and healthier lifestyles.

SDOH - Social & Community Context

What is social & community context? It is “the connection of the contexts within which people live, learn, work, and play, and their health and wellbeing” (CDC). It includes such factors as cohesion within a community, civic participation, discrimination, conditions in the workplace, and incarceration.

For example, your relationships and interactions with family, friends, co-workers, and community members can have significant impacts on your health. For this reason, it is important to consider the social and community context where you live, work, and play to determine how your health may be influenced in both negative and positive ways.

SDOH - Neighborhood & Environment

What is neighborhood and built environment? It is “the connection between where a person lives – housing, neighborhood, and environment – and their health and wellbeing.” (CDC). It includes such factors as quality of housing, access to transportation, availability of healthy foods, air, and water quality, and neighborhood crime and violence.

For instance, if you live in a rural area, you are more likely to live in an area known as a food desert. Food deserts are areas where the closest supermarket is more than a mile away from your home. Additionally, you are more likely to live in older housing that may have contaminants such as lead and asbestos. On the contrary, if you live in an urban area, you are more likely to live in a food oasis but have more crime. 

Generally speaking, our communities are considered rural for the most. Given that, our communities have the potential to score more poorly in several of these areas. Even so, improvement is achievable and has been observed in areas such as broadband internet access.