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Social determinants of health: Future directions for health disparities research

R.C. Palmer, D. Ismond, E.J. Rodriquez, J.S. Kaufman
Am J Public Health

In 2015, the National Institutes on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) engaged in a two-year science visioning process for health disparities and convened a series of workshops aimed at identifying promising research directions. A central theme that resonated throughout these workshops was the importance of social determinants of health and their relationship to health disparities. Broadly defined, social determinants of health represent economic and political structures, social and physical environments, and access to health services.1 Although observational research has documented the influence of social determinants on actual health, unanswered questions surrounding the mechanisms that explain why those who are socially disadvantaged suffer disproportionality from disease- and health-related burden remain. This editorial summarizes key research directions that emerged from NIMHD’s science visioning and are aimed at developing a more robust understanding of how social determinants of health contribute to health disparities. These research directions include: 1. understanding the contributions of upstream social determinants of health, 2. embodiment, 3. protective factors and resiliency, 4. place and context, and 5. overcoming methodological challenges.

Palmer RC, Ismond D, Rodriquez EJ, Kaufman JS. Social determinants of health: Future directions for health disparities research. Am J Public Health. 2019;109(S1):S70-s71. PMID: 30699027. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.304964.

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