Social Determinants of Health

What are they?

Social determinants of health are the social and economic conditions that influence health of everyone around us and their community. Money, power, and the amount of resources people have access to are all affected by these conditions. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, social determinants of health affect factors that are related to health outcomes.

These factors related to health outcomes include:
•    How a person develops during the first few years of life (early childhood development)
•    How much education a persons obtains
•    Being able to get and keep a job
•    What kind of work a person does
•    Having food or being able to get food (food security)
•    Having access to health services and the quality of those services
•    Housing status
•    How much money a person earns
•    Discrimination and social support

Why is this important?

A person’s health, risk of illness, and life expectancy are highly affected by social factors such as education, income, housing, neighborhoods, and nutrition. Every person in the United States of America should have full access to health potential no matter where they live or work. Health equality is important in our communities, especially the African American community. Social determinants of health such as poverty, unequal access to health care, lack of education, and racism are factors that add to differences in health outcomes in the African American community.

Below is a simple and easy way to learn about Social Determinants of Health.
Social Determinants PP.pdf

How is GRAAHI addressing the Social Determinants of Health?

Staying true to our mission “To promote health care parity in the Grand Rapids African American community through advocacy, education and research to achieve positive health outcomes,” the Health Institute has created a three pronged approach to addressing the social determinants of health.

  1. Advocacy

    A task force has been created that brings together the community, health care providers and plans to address issues concerning the African American community and how we can work together collectively to solve such issues.  This task force will provide an opportunity for the health care community to interact with the general community to get a deeper understanding of the needs and desires of African Americans- both health related and not.  GRAAHI is also working to formalize relationships with organizations such as the Urban League and NAACP which are needed to truly address the issues and bring about change.

  2. Education

    The Institute will work to continue providing real time education on the social determinants of health and how they are making African Americans in Grand Rapids and throughout Kent County sick.  The Institute has released a line of brochures which also includes information on the social determinants of health, and is currently developing a GRAAHI informational video which has a focus on the social determinants and their effect on health.  GRAAHI also has resources such as The Last Straw (a board game on the social determinants of health) and the movie Unnatural Causes which can be loaned out.

    Click here to watch experts from Episode 1:  “In Sickness and In Wealth”

  3. Research

    As the Institute begins to grow its research efforts, a focus will be placed on incorporating social factors and the impact they have on the health of African Americans into prospective projects.