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Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)

The 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.

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 illnessesdisproportionately affecting people of color and low income populations, and neighborhoods 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. 

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Healthy People 2020 identified five key areas of determinants: 

Healthy People 2030 SDOH Graphic Domain

Recognizing these SDOH can challenge our conventional understandings of public health  and what it means to protect it.