We now know that social factors — from income levels to race to the neighborhood where we live — affect health outcomes more than anyone ever thought.
The social determinants of health are given very little attention in our current systems of health care and social welfare, despite the disproportionate role they play in determining life outcomes.
The basic reason for the neglect of social determinants in health care is that the system is primarily set up to treat acute, biomedical problems.
Another major cause of the neglect of social determinants of health is fragmentation within the health care system, as well as lack of coordination between health care and social welfare systems.
The general public is also unaware of the concept of social determinants of health or the ways in which addressing social determinants might improve life outcomes.