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What is the outlook for addressing social determinants of health?

S.M. Butler
JAMA Heal Forum

In a remarkably short period, attention to social determinants of health—nonmedical factors influencing health, such as housing, adequate nutrition, and transportation—has become a central feature of efforts to improve health and health equity. In just the last 10 years, the term’s annual frequency in journal articles has increased 7-fold. More recently, COVID-19 has underscored the link between social factors and inequities in health care. It is now common to have screening questions about social conditions during patient intake and for referrals to be made. And there are calls for Z codes identifying social needs to be used more extensively in the health system to improve care.

However, despite this growing focus on social determinants, the health care system is far from able to effectively address these influencers of health. There has been progress, but several challenges require attention.

Butler SM. What is the outlook for addressing social determinants of health? JAMA Heal Forum. 2021;2(9):e213639-e213639. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2021.3639

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