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IOM Weighs in on Social Determinants Training

If patients’ symptoms and conditions are the product of who they are, where they are from, and how they have lived, can better understanding those circumstances help providers serve those patients more effectively?

Increasingly the answer to that question has been yes, it can, and now, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and the Institute of Medicine have proposed an approach to training caregivers on the social determinants of health. Their new publication, A Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health, notes that

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines social determinants of health as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” These forces and systems include economic policies, development agendas, cultural and social norms, social policies, and political systems. Health inequities, “the unfair and avoidable differences in health between groups of people within countries and between countries” (WHO, 2015b), stem from the social determinants of health and result in stark differences in health and health outcomes.

frameworkNAUH has long maintained that the socio-economic challenges their patients face – all important social determinants of health – make serving their low-income communities more challenging and more complex than the patients served by the typical community hospital in the U.S. today.

The report’s framework addresses such issues as diversity and inclusion, the importance of a diverse workforce, community participation, health professions education, and more. To learn more about how understanding the social determinants of health might lead to better care and healthier populations, go here to see the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and the Institute of Medicine publication A Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health.

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