The Rise of SDOH
Much has been written and discussed about the importance of the social determinants of health, specifically how social conditions can have a greater influence on health than the provision of health services. Social determinants of health have been described as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age (World Health Organization, 2008).
There are a plethora of models and frameworks to elucidate key concepts of this idea to guide policy. A seminal report published in the Lancet put social determinants of health on the radar screen in the fields of health and medicine globally (Marmot, 2005). Since then, the phrase “social determinants of health” has become so common that it is often shortened to the acronym “SDOH.” In that 2005 report, SDOH are described as the root causes of significant disparities in health outcomes between and within countries.
While the concept of SDOH is a vital one to understand and improve contemporary medicine and access to health, the terminology needs work. In 2019, it is clear that the phrase “social determinants of health” overstates the permanency of the relevant conditions and neglects the process of resilience and the assets which enable people to overcome social barriers to achieve good health outcomes…..more
Conditions such as healthy housing, reliable transportation, ample green space, and clean air, in addition to public safety, good paying jobs, quality education, and healthy food, are all important factors that influence health outcomes. These conditions influence, but do not determine health outcomes. We need better ways to capture what we know about the complex interplay among structural barriers that create social conditions associated with poor health outcomes, community assets, and the strength of people thriving against all odds.