What are Social Determinants of Health?

August 12, 2020

Over the last decade, we have seen a spike in conversations around the social determinants of health. Through our research of these socioeconomic issues, we established that we can impact more than just food insecurity. Working with community partners, we are fighting these issues from a holistic perspective to make a greater impact.

Root Causes of Hunger

The World Health Organization established the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) over a decade ago and defines them as “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.” They designed these determinants to help support the many countries and people impacted by social and economic factors that lead to poor health and inequality. Healthy People 2020 further highlights the importance of addressing SDOH within the United States by finding ways to “create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.”Icons describing the five social determinants of health, including neighborhood and built environment, health and healthcare, social and community context, access to education, and economic stability.As an organizing framework, Healthy People 2020 created five key areas to address these issues:

Neighborhood and built environment: access to food and healthy living conditions.

Health and healthcare: access to healthcare and health literacy.

Social and community context: civic participation and social cohesion.

Education: language and literacy, access to education, and enrollment in higher education.

Economic stability: employment, food insecurity, and poverty.

This pushes an obligation to not just feed people, but address all these determinants in relation to one another. We influence the future of food insecurity by coupling what we know about the five major SDOH factors with what we learn about our specific Full Cart program population. Furthermore, we identify those in need to improve and resolve individual health outcomes by addressing the root causes. Collaborating with our partners – such as the Cigna Foundation and others that focus on health outcomes – we can address more than just food insecurity while building a conduit for stability. We’re determined to help solve multiple systemic issues to create a greater social return for those we serve.