SDOH Overview

What are the Social Determinants of Health and how did they originate?

The US Department of Health and Human Services defines SDOH as the following:

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where 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.

SDOH can be grouped into 5 domains:

Economic Stability

Education Access and Quality

Health Care Access and Quality

Neighborhood and Built Environment

Social and Community Context

SDOH also contributes to wide health disparities and inequities. For example, people who don’t have access to grocery stores with healthy foods are less likely to have good nutrition. That raises their risk of health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity — and even lowers life expectancy relative to people who do have access to healthy foods.

Just promoting healthy choices won’t eliminate these and other health disparities. Instead, public health organizations and their partners in sectors like education, transportation, and housing need to take action to improve the conditions in people’s environments.