Educating the Judiciary about the Social Determinants of Health
Most people intuitively understand that social, economic, and environmental factors, known as social determinants of health (SDOH), profoundly influence our health. Healthy People 2030, an initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), defines the SDOH as “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” (Healthy People).
SDOH can act directly or indirectly; for example, living near major roads can cause respiratory illnesses, disproportionately affecting people of color and low-income populations, and neighbourhoods with high crime can deter going outside to exercise. For better or for worse, these factors play a serious role in our health: an estimated 70% of premature deaths are caused by SDOH-related factors.