The social determinants of health are the factors that affect health outside of the four walls of the hospital. Housing, social services, geographical location, and education are some of the most common social determinants of health. These factors have a significant impact on the current healthcare landscape. As more healthcare organizations deliver value-based healthcare, they are developing strategies to drive wellness care.
Socioeconomic factors can encompass several different social determinants of health. Poverty can limit access to healthy food, safe neighborhoods, and good schools, among other things. Most prominently, poverty affects housing.
Although individuals can lose reliable housing for a number of reasons – trauma, violence, mental illness, addiction, or another chronic health issue – poverty remains a notable factor driving homelessness.
Hospitals treating a large homeless patient population can forge partnerships with housing departments to help drive housing in the community. Housing development partners can help place individuals who are homeless in houses and offer support that will help individuals maintain that housing.
“Access to safe, quality, affordable housing – and the supports necessary to maintain that housing – constitute one of the most basic and powerful social determinants of health,” wrote the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) in a 2014 white paper.
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