How much do social determinants matter to our health?

What Makes us Healthy?

We have an intuitive sense that things like what we eat, how much we exercise, the quality of our water and air, and getting appropriate health care when sick all help us stay healthy. Studies have also shown that our incomes, education, even racial identity is associated with health — so called “social determinants of health.” How much do social determinants matter? How much does the health system improve our health?

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  • From our Blog

    Allocating health outcomes to risk factors, part 3

    A common way to assess how much various factors contribute to health is to estimate how much variation in health across the country is explained by each of those factors. But explaining variation is not as useful as many may think.

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  • From our Blog

    Allocating health outcomes to risk factors, part 2

    I wrote about Nancy Krieger’s insightful American Journal of Public Health paper in a previous post. In this second of three posts, I will continue to unpack some of the content of her article, focusing on the distinction between correlation and causation.

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  • From our Blog

    Allocating health outcomes to risk factors, part 1

    In 2017, Nancy Krieger, Professor of Social Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published a truly insightful paper in the American Journal of Public Health in which she raised several conceptual problems with allocating health outcomes to contributions from risk factors.

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  • From our Blog

    Next Phase for the Drivers of Health Project

    The next public meeting of the Drivers of Health project will be held in Detroit on September 11. Housing, education, and access and quality of health care will be the focus. Why? This post explains.

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  • From our Blog

    Pediatric social determinants screening

    In late June, Public Agenda published a report on perspectives of low-income parents on pediatric screening for social determinants of health. A key conclusion suggests a substantial challenge.

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