Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are the conditions in which people are born, play, learn, work, grow, and age that affect their health. These conditions such as housing, employment, education, health care, and socioeconomic status are shaped by social, economic, and political forces. These factors have a direct impact on health and life expectancy. In order to achieve health equity and improve life expectancy gaps, we start by understanding the way in which health is shaped outside of the health care system.
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Defining Social Determinants of Health
World Health Organization: “The social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.”
Department of Health and Human Services: “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.”
Mapping Data on Social Determinants of Health
Life Expectancy Maps: Developed by the Virginia Commonwealth University, these maps show how life expectancy varies by zip code in cities throughout the U.S.
Neighborhood Atlas: Using the Area Deprivation Index, this tool from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, allowing neighborhoods to be ranked by socioeconomic disadvantage and incorporates multiple social determinants of health.
Exploring Social Determinants of Health
Center for Disease Control: Provides research and data tools to further explore SDOH
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: SDOH is a focus area and this site contains frequently updated articles on SDOH and health equity.
VCU Center on Society and Health: In addition to the mapping project, this site offers up-to-date research and tools.