Social Determinants of Health
It is stated that a person’s social determinants of health have a huge impact on their quality of health. But what exactly are social determinants of health? And how do they affect your health?
Social determinants of health are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are a wider set of influences and systems that affect your daily life. They affect our mortality (state of being subject to death), life expectancy, health status, functional ability, and morbidity (the condition of suffering from a disease or medical condition). Social determinants of health can be broken down into four groups:
1. Socioeconomic Factors
- Educational background
- Job status
- Access to a support system
- Income/Debt ratio
2. Physical Environment
- Where a person lives and the areas which surround them
- Access to parks and playgrounds
- Safety and walkability of the residential area
- Access to public transportation
3. Health Behaviors
- Physical activity
- Smoking habits and alcohol/drug use
- Sexual activity
- Food Insecurity
7% of households are food insecure which means they don’t have the nutrient dense foods needed to fuel their bodies. This could be because they live in a food desert or because they cannot afford the food options in their area.
4. Health Care
- Access to healthcare
- Quality of care options
It was found that 3.6 million people cannot access medical care due to lack of transportation – this prevents a person from getting to their yearly primary care appointment and any early detection/ screening appointments, which puts them as risk of developing or advancing a cancer diagnosis or heart problem.
Research shows that social determinants of health account for between 70 – 80% of health outcomes and that addressing these determinants correctly is important for improving health and reducing inequities in health care.
It’s important to understand that health is more than being medically healthy. Of course, it is important, for example, to eat healthy and exercise, but one’s access to healthy food and green space also have a direct effect on a person’s health.
It’s important to address these social determinants of health. Enhancing the quality of life can have an influence on a community’s health outcomes. Examples include investing in safe and affordable housing, access to education, public safety, availability of healthy foods, local emergency/health services and toxic free environments.
As a local health institution, ECHN strives every day to address these health inequities and be a valuable resource to the community.
- We conduct a community health needs assessment every 3 years to identify the areas’ current health care needs. This assessment helps us see the key health issues facing our community and enables us to evaluate the programs we currently offer and look to develop more programs that address the specific needs found – read more about our recent assessment as well as our implementation plan.
- We inform, educate, and empower our community through offering free community health education classes, blog excerpts on our website and through the creation of healthy fact sheets.
- We also have the following:
- A Freedom from Smoking program to help individuals quit smoking through an 8-week course
- The Connecticut Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program, a program providing clinical breast exams, Pap tests and mammograms free of charge to women who meet eligibility requirements. The objective of the program is to increase the number of women who receive breast and cervical cancer screenings, diagnostics and treatment referral services.
- The WISEWOMAN Program for heart disease program for women age 30 to 64. Women who are currently enrolled in the Connecticut Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program are also eligible to participate in the Connecticut WISEWOMAN Program. This unique program helps women improve diet, physical activity and other healthy life habits to prevent, delay or control heart disease and certain cancers. Each participant works with a Community Health Navigator to assess individual risk facts and design a plan to reach healthy nutrition and physical activity goals. WISEWOMAN also includes free health screenings, such as blood pressure testing, cholesterol testing and glucose testing for prediabetes and diabetes.
- The Maternity Care and Family Planning Center at Rockville General Hospital. This center provides prenatal and postpartum care for women who are uninsured and under-insured. Women who receive prenatal care through the Center have access to ultrasounds and laboratory services, as well as gynecological services including: physical examinations, sexually transmitted infection testing, pregnancy testing, disease prevention, health promotion and maintenance and family planning services. Patients receiving care through the Center will receive one-on-one care from a doctor or nurse. The Center’s staff works closely with the staff of the Family Birthing Center at Manchester Memorial Hospital to ensure a seamless transition of care for prenatal patients as they prepare for birth. Assistance is offered to help anyone enroll in Husky medical insurance plans. Private payers are also welcome.
- DispatchHealth, a partnership we have formed to bring same-day medical care to your home for urgent, but non-life-threatening health issues. DispatchHealth is an extension of your local ECHN medical care team, and their expert teams are ready to deliver high-quality, convenient care when you can’t leave home or when your doctor’s office is closed. DispatchHealth is in-network with most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicare Advantage. DispatchHealth treats a wide range of common to complex illnesses and injuries. They can also test for COVID-19 and treat its associated symptoms. Medical teams always wear protective gear and arrive with sanitized equipment.
- ECHN’s Family Development Center, comprised of seven grant funded home visiting programs that assist parents in developing essential parenting skills while providing parent education, child development information, developmental screenings, playgroups, and learning activities.
Our community and the health of its people are our focus at ECHN. We are here for you, regardless of any social determinants of health and will continue to adapt, advance and advocate for you in lieu of the main concerns of the community.