Addressing Social Determinants of Health Can Improve Community Health & Reduce Costs

Published on: October 09, 2019. Updated on: April 06, 2022.

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This infographic offers an overview of the social determinants of health, their implications for health outcomes and costs, and solutions to address unmet needs.

How can a diabetic person manage their diet if they don't know whether they will be able to afford their next meal? This is just one example of the profound influence of social determinants like food security on our health outcomes.

A recent study found that people are more than two times more likely to go to the emergency room if they struggle with food insecurity, access to reliable transportation or community safety. Building healthier communities will require collaboration across sectors to provide solutions like school food programs, ride-sharing initiatives and early childhood education.

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Chart on health outcomes adapted from: RWJF, County Health Rankings Model

  • NOTE: RWJF defines the Health Factors as representing those things we can modify to improve the length and quality of life for residents. Therefore, genetics are not included as they are not modifiable.

Examples of Social Determinants of Health

  • NOTE: Healthy People 2020 provides a comprehensive list of both social and physical determinants of health. We selected several to include in this abbreviated list.

Survey findings show the prevalence of unmet social needs that impact health care: McKinsey 2019 Consumer Social Determinants of Health Survey
Respondents reporting unmet social needs were more likely to report multiple ER visits over a 12-month period.


Food Environment


Transportation: Non-emergency medical transportation


Collaboration graphic adapted from: Action required: The urgency of addressing social determinants of health, A PwC Health Research Institute report

Medicare reimbursement for social services

Primary Care


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