The World Health Organization defines the 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. In an era of pronounced human migration, changing demographics, and growing financial gaps between rich and poor, a fundamental understanding of how the conditions and circumstances in which individuals and populations exist affect mental and physical health is imperative. Educating health professionals about the social determinants of health generates awareness among those professionals about the potential root causes of ill health and the importance of addressing them in and with communities, contributing to more effective strategies for improving health and health care for underserved individuals, communities, and populations.
Recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop to develop a high-level framework for such health professional education. A Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health also puts forth a conceptual model for the framework’s use with the goal of helping stakeholder groups envision ways in which organizations, education, and communities can come together to address health inequalities.
Population of focus: Health care professionals