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Social Determinants of Health: Policy Brief

Identification of the Issue

Public health is an immensely broad field of study, which includes various problems related to health, care, equity, and infrastructure (“Topics & issues,” 2018). However, it is possible to state that one of the problems in the public health sector, which is often not paid enough attention, is social determinants of health (SDH). According to the Nation’s Health website, SDH is the “conditions in which you live, learn, work and age” as well as the impact of these conditions on the health state and behavioral patterns of an individual (“The Nation’s Health series,” 2018, para. 1). The purpose of this paper is to overview the concept of SDH and propose solutions for the issue.

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Background Information

Population Affected

It could be stated with certainty that, due to the nature of social determinants of health, every individual in the United States is subject to the SDH’s influence to some extent. However, the statistics suggest that some population groups are at more risk because of the condition in which they live. For example, 46.7 million people were homeless as of 2014; 2.2 million individuals were institutionalized in prisons, jails, and other facilities (“The Nation’s Health series,” 2018, para. 2). Thus, it is essential to study each particular population group to determine its specific SDH.

Local, State, and National Levels of the Problem

Once again, it is possible to restate that due to the nature of the issue, it affects the population of the United States on local, state, and national levels. The article by Marmot and Allen (2014) states that interventions on local and national levels could be successfully implemented due to the large evidence base of decisions for the improvement of SDH, and it is also mentioned that even the international level is involved in the issue. Accordingly, it could be stated that stakeholders in various spheres of policy-making are equally responsible for the improvement of public health.

Evidence-Based Support

As it is mentioned in the previous subsection, there are various examples of evidence-based support in the contemporary scholarly literature on the topic. In the article by Braveman and Gottlieb (2014), the authors mention that in the past two decades considerable progress has been made regarding studying the SDH’s impact on public health. It is stated that “half of all deaths in the U.S. involve behavioral causes,” and also that practices related to health are largely affected by such social factors as income, education, and employment (Braveman & Gottlieb, 2014, p. 20). Another element that is closely connected with the concept of SDH is urban liveability (Badland et al., 2014).

Problem Statement

Based on the scholarly literature that was chosen as supporting evidence for this paper, it is possible to synthesize the problem statement. It could be formulated the following was: SDH has an immense impact on the overall health outcomes of the public sector in the United States, but the holistic positive effect of these determinants on the improvement of people’s health and behavior is often underestimated, and thus it is essential to implement policies aimed to promote SDH. As an example of the problem’s importance, it is possible to mention that public health researchers often focus only on individual behaviors such as drinking, smoking, or drug abuse, but the drivers of these behaviors, namely SDH, are overlooked (Marmot & Allen, 2014).

Suggestions for Addressing the Issue

Necessary Stakeholders

Since the overall importance of the problem is identified, necessary stakeholders should be determined. It could be stated that the most important aspect of involving stakeholders in the improvement of SDH is to have stakeholders from various areas of social occupation. As the problem affects society on many levels, it is highly important not to focus only on the representatives of the healthcare system, but also involve people from businesses, policy-makers, social researchers, and the community at large. Thus, a more cumulative effect will be achieved.

Funding Considerations

Social determinants of health are significantly defined by economic factors. Therefore, it could be suggested that the majority of the problems related to SDH would require financial investments for better results. However, the decisions about funding social projects and developing budgets for the improvement of issues should be made by the principal stakeholder involved in a particular situation.

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Impact on the Health Care Delivery System

The previous sections investigated important aspects of SDH as one of the major public health issues, and the final part is dedicated to the conclusion on the overall impact of SDH initiatives impact on the health care delivery system. It is suggested that the most evident effect of the implementation of such policies is that health care facilities will obtain a significantly more profound understanding of how health and health-related behavioral patterns are affected by social factors (Marmot & Allen, 2014). As a result, health practitioners will be able to improve their approach to care delivery by learning the lessons from the practice of promoting positive social determinants of health.


Badland, H., Whitzman, C., Lowe, M., Davern, M., Aye, L., Butterworth, I.,… Giles-Corti, B. (2014). Urban liveability: Emerging lessons from Australia for exploring the potential for indicators to measure the social determinants of health. Social Science & Medicine, 111, 64-73.

Braveman, P., & Gottlieb, L. (2014). The social determinants of health: It’s time to consider the causes of the causes. Public Health Reports, 129(2), 19-31.

Marmot, M., & Allen, J. J. (2014). Social determinants of health equity. American Journal of Public Health, 104(S4), S517-S519.

The Nation’s Health series: Social determinants of health. (2018). Web.

Topics & issues. (2018). Web.

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