Social Determinants of Health

UNH partners with settlement houses to understand and demonstrate their positive impact on individuals, families, and communities. One key area of this work is around social determinants of health (SDOH.) There is increasing recognition that social determinants of health have a significant impact on physical health and well-being. We know that conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, and age affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. The conditions are the social determinants of health (SDOH).

The five key areas of SDOH include:

  • Economic Stability
  • Education
  • Social and Community Context
  • Health and Health Care
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment

UNH works with settlements houses to help demonstrate their positive impact on social determinants of health in a variety of ways. This provides information for settlement house program planning and development and positions settlement houses to partner with health care providers and health care payers in new ways, with the goal of providing additional resources to settlement houses and the communities they serve.

In addition to peer learning and advocacy, UNH assists settlement houses to make the case that they positively impact social determinants of health in the following ways:

  • Develops research documents for settlement houses that outline key SDOH facts, statistics, and relevant case-studies and compile highly relevant academic research concerning SDOH, summaries of innovative programming and SDOH interventions taking place within the UNH network and in similar contexts outside of the network. .
  • Researches best practices and methods for how settlement houses can gather and present data demonstrating their positive SDOH impact.
  • Explores potential partnerships and funding opportunities

Conditions (e.g., social, economic, and physical) in these various environments and settings (e.g., school, workplace, and neighborhood) are also affected by where people live. Resources that enhance the quality of life can have a significant influence on population health outcomes. Examples of these resources include safe and affordable housing, access to education, public safety, availability of healthy foods, local emergency/health services, and environments free of life-threatening toxins.

The relationship between the conditions of one’s environment and personal health is fundamental to SDOH. Research indicates that non-clinical factors - i.e. SDOH - account for greater than 80 percent of health outcomes. As such, improvements in SDOH can have a dramatic impact on the health of communities.

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