Prevention, health promotion, and social work: Aligning health and human service systems through a workforce for health
The seminal Consensus Study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released in September 2019 describes the benefits of integrating health and social care service delivery, underscoring the central role of social determinants of health (SDOH) in health outcomes. Although the report’s focus on the integration of health and social care contributes a much needed perspective to the national discourse on SDOH and offers a useful framework for organizing service delivery activities, the omission of prevention and health promotion throughout the report is a substantial limitation. We call for increased attention to and investment in prevention and health promotion in the proposed 5As framework. We contend that effectively addressing SDOH and improving alignment between health and social systems require reconceptualization of the traditional health care workforce and renewed state and national advocacy efforts. A paradigm shift encompassing a broader “workforce for health” that is well trained in prevention, health promotion, and advocacy is critical to addressing SDOH, improving population health outcomes, and achieving health equity. Given their professional mission, training, expertise, and scope of practice, social workers are well positioned to lead this effort.
Ross AM, de Saxe Zerden L. Prevention, health promotion, and social work: Aligning health and human service systems through a workforce for health. Am J Public Health. 2020;110(S2):S186-S190. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2020.305690