Social determinants of health – a preview of our Monday panel discussion

A recent quick search for “social determinants of health” in PubMed yielded over 6700 results, 80% published within the last 5 years. From reducing tobacco-related health disparities to understanding outcomes for patients with Type II diabetes, researchers and clinicians are paying more attention to social, economic, and geographic factors that influence our health.

How are social determinants of health defined? A 2019 Journal of the American College of Radiology article 1 writes about them this way:

“The social determinants of health have garnered particular attention more recently, centering on the premise that patients’ zip codes may be a better predictor of their life expectancy than their genetic code. This is based on longstanding research that demonstrates the impact that low socioeconomic status, food and housing instability, transportation difficulties, violence, racism, limited educational opportunities, and an unhealthy environment—among others—has on quality and quantity of life. These factors undoubtedly impact a patient’s ability to prioritize, access, afford, or complete imaging services, whether preventive, diagnostic, or therapeutic.”

Our 2019 conference panel, Social Determinants of Health: From the Patient to the Community and Beyond, brings together three different perspectives on this emerging health care focus. Dr. Nancy Smuckler, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will share her research on the effects of poverty on individual health. Biostatistician Kayla Heslin, a researcher at the Center for Urban Population Health, will highlight her work on zip code and community health research and assessment. Finally, Associate Researcher Kate Konkle, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will highlight their work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

The panel discussion will be held Monday, October 7 from 9:00-10:30 am in the Regency Ballroom.

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Brenda Fay, Advocate Aurora Health Library Network 2019 Conference co-chair

1. Betancourt JR, Tan-McGrory A, Flores E, Lopez D. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Radiology: A Call to Action. Journal of the American College of Radiology : JACR. 2019;16(4 Pt B):547-553.