Understanding Buzzwords: What is SDOH?

Social determinants of health (SDOH) have received increasing attention over the last few years. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified public interest in SDOH. But what exactly are social determinants of health, and why are they so important? Social determinants of health are the conditions in the places where people live, work, play, and pray that impact health outcomes (CDC).

According to Healthy People 2030, a framework published by the Department of Health and Human Services every decade, there are five main areas within which SDOH can be grouped. These include access to and quality of healthcare, access to and quality of education, social and community contexts, economic stability, and the neighborhood in which one lives.

Social determinants of health are the non-medical circumstances that make obtaining good health more or less challenging. Various factors affect the health of an individual. Only providing people with medical care is not enough. Instead, we should focus on how we can reduce barriers people face to good health in their everyday lives to reduce health disparities.

“Texans are telling us what they want and need, and it goes beyond just being able to see a doctor or go to a hospital,” said Elena Marks, EHF’s President and CEO. “It’s about health, not just health care and addressing all those things outside the doctor’s office that impact their health. If we really want to improve the health of Texans, then we should listen to them.”

The good news is that many churches within the Diocese of Texas are already working to address social determinants of health. For example, Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Angleton hosts the Peach Street Farmer’s Market, making healthy and local food easier to access for residents. It also provides vendors with a steady source of income.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Liberty created the dWELLing, a one-stop-shop for good health. The project envisions a central place where people can gather to participate in activities and workshops such as yoga, worship, and cooking classes. The goal of the dWELLing is to improve the well-being of community members.

Recently, EHF invested $15 million to strengthen community-based clinics across the diocese. Many of these grants will help the clinics go beyond the exam room to develop ways to address the non-medical causes of poor health. These new grants demonstrate EHF’s commitment to addressing social determinants of health.

So what can you do? Anytime you work to improve access and quality of healthcare, access and quality of education, social and community contexts, economic stability, and the neighborhood in which one lives, you are actively addressing poor social determinants of health. If you would like further support or want more information, we encourage you to contact us.