Social Determinants of Health

The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) is the environment in which an individual lives and how the factors wherein influence their health outcomes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), SDOH 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” (WHO, 2018). These conditions include: “socioeconomic position, residential location, environmental living conditions, occupational risks and exposures, health risk and health seeking behaviors, along with limited access to medical care” (Murray, 2018). It is important to evaluate the SDOH in order to gain an understanding as to why some individuals or populations experience different health outcomes.

SDOH play a significant role in both contributing to and preventing adverse health results. As the SDOH is concerned with the individual’s environment, where one lives can either be conducive or detrimental to overall health. In considering the conditions of a community, one of the most critical aspects to consider is neighborhood status. Your neighborhood/ physical environment plays a role in the resources available to you. Resources include access to education– early childhood, vocational, and higher-education—, healthcare services, such as hospitals and clinics, parks and green space for recreation, grocery stores or farmers markets, and safe residential housing. Socioeconomic status, as it pertains to SDOH, refers to the financial resources of an individual. In particular, the amount of money one can allocate towards services, such as healthcare or affordable food/ housing,, which can improve their health.

Furthermore, SDOH are involved in the consequences related to inadequate health resources. Specifically, health disparities. By definition, health disparities are: “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations” (CDC, 2018).