Where and how should we invest in our nation’s health?

There is broad consensus that the U.S. spends too much on health care. Some feel that we would be better served by investing more on factors outside of the health system that affect health — so-called social determinants of health. However, we lack reliable evidence to indicate where and how much to invest.

Should we spend more on education or on the environment? Housing or nutrition? While there have been attempts to quantify the contribution of various factors to health, most have significant methodological limitations and do not incorporate more recent evidence.

The Drivers of Health project was created in May 2019 to make progress on the question of what affects health. Over the course of a year, we will analyze published, scientific evidence and consult with experts to assess what is known about the social determinants of health. We will also identify areas where knowledge is lacking and propose new studies to fill in the gaps.

The Meetings

Throughout 2019, we will host three meetings:

Princeton, June 2019
We will revisit the question of what affects health. To be able to study social determinants in more detail, we need to first draw out a clear framework that defines what is meant by “health” and “relevant factors.”

Detroit, September 2019
Using the framework refined at the first meeting, we will document what is currently known about the factors that affect health.

Cambridge, December 2019
We will address what is unknown, but knowable, and build a research agenda to direct future investigations.

We invite you to join us for some of the discussions at these meetings—in person or via live stream—and for ongoing conversations on this website and our social media feeds. We will share frequently what we are learning in our blog and welcome your feedback.