The SOCIAL Determinants of Health? What About the POLITICAL Determinants of Health?

Excerpt with permission from The Medical Care Blog, Nov 4, 2018, written by Dr. Ranit Mishori, family physician and a professor of family medicine at Georgetown University. Dr. Mishori is also a Board Member of the National Physicians Alliance. Follow her on Twitter: @ranitmd

The concept that health comes with significant social determinants is everywhere we turn. This idea – that health and health inequities are driven by “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age [and are] shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources” – is increasingly the focus of articles, research projects, tool-kits, new courses and new conferences. And that is great!

The medical and public health communities widely recognize that the social determinants of health (SDoH) deserve the attention of policymakers, public health professionals, medical schools and researchers. There are calls for increased training in SDoH and health care providers now have an array of tools to screen for such variables as socioeconomic status, hunger, education, employment, physical environment, and social support. Scholarship surrounding these factors is also on the rise. My own search of the academic literature, for example, shows that articles with “social determinants of health” in the title jumped from 45 in 2007 to 1092 in 2017.

This improved academic insight into the role of SDoH leads to a natural question about root causes. Specifically, if these social determinants shape health, then what shapes these social determinants? READ MORE…