What are the social determinants of health?

Short answer: about 90% of what actually influences health outcomes in the real world. When I round in our county safety net hospital, I regularly see the medical consequences of poor schools, poverty, inadequate social support, social isolation, and violence: liver disease, infectious diseases due to substance abuse, poorly-controlled chronic diseases like hypertension and kidney disease, mental illness, and often the combination of all of these (and more). This is not just an economic disaster (these are some of the most expensive patients out there), it’s a human one. Your zip code can affect your health and wellbeing more than your genetic code.

Our social problems become medicalized in our current system, and this can lead to episodes like the patient dumping case in Baltimore and stigmatization and undertreatment of mental illness.

What can we do? In this episode, we explore views on why social determinants matter and whether we’re looking at the right approaches and metrics to treat the root causes.

Check out the original episode on Facebook and tell us what you think. Do you work in a county hospital and experience what I experience? Or do you work in a private, for-profit hospital? What is your experience like? Comment and please share, it helps grow our movement more thank you know!


The Podcast audio version


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