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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Let us know what you think makes us healthy. Play our interactive game and “connect the dots” to tell a story. Save your selection, share your journey on social media, and help us with our research.

Drivers of Health: What do we know?

In the last forty years, much has been done to quantify the contributions of various factors to health. What can we learn from this collective body of research? In an extensive literature review, we provide a historical background and summarize a selection of scholarly work on the drivers of health, including frameworks to organize social and health system determinants of health.

  • From our Blog

    The Price of Social Programs

    In other blog posts, we’ve discussed U.S. health care spending and outcomes. In short, we spend a lot more on medical care than other high-income countries, yet our health outcomes are often worse. We also spend a lot of money on social programs, which have been shown to be associated with improved health outcomes. It

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  • From our Blog

    Social determinants of health in the news

    Social determinants of health comes up from time to time in health policy news or as the subject of reports from health policy-focused organizations. Here are quotes from four stories or reports that caught my eye recently.

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  • From our Blog

    Debriefing on Detroit

    The Drivers of Health meeting in Detroit on September 11 focused on the research and research gaps in the connection between health and housing (presented by Roshanak Mehdipanah of the University of Michigan) and education (presented by Adriana Lleras-Muney of UCLA). The meeting wrapped up with a panel discussion including those two scholars and Robert

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  • From our Blog

    Plant-Based Diets and Mortality

    In one of his recent Health Care Triage videos, Aaron Carroll calls attention to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that supposedly tells us something new about plant-based diets and health.

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  • From our Blog

    Addressing social needs requires good evidence

    As I read more of the social determinants of health-related literature, I’m noticing a frequent theme: we don’t have enough information to guide decision making.

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