May 24, 2023

Social Determinants of Health Part 2

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Welcome to MicroEd. Quick facts for big issues. I'm John Lewis, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and founder of Emergency Medicine Remix. If you missed it, check out Part 1 where we discuss social determinants of health and how your zip code is a more powerful predictor of health than your genetic code.

Here's what we're gonna learn in Part 2. How to change our focus to addressing social determinants of health to eliminate health inequities and improve both public and individual health. Do you remember the Flint water crisis? It's like that old saying, "There must be something in the water." well, that is a powerful example of the social determinant of health of neighborhood and built environment. It shows how it impacts inequities in a really, really powerful way. When it comes to health, upstream events have powerful downstream consequences that travel very far downstream. Putting all of this together, social determinants of health, dance, water, kind of makes this a river dance. Google it. It was big in the nineties. Research shows us that most diseases, including trauma, are a result of environmental, social behavioral, and upstream factors, rather than biology, and that's even truer for health inequities. And that's huge and a little overwhelming. What can you do?

Better yet, what can we do? Here are five things. I like to call them the social change method. Number one, educate each other through formal and informal research and study. Two, advocate on the personal level as well as the policy level. Three, collaborate with all stakeholders. Do with, not just to and for. Four, innovate. Look for new and old solutions. New doesn't necessarily mean good, and old doesn't necessarily mean bad. Five, celebrate your shared successes. Okay, there's one more. Six, repeat. Just remember, food access is a social determinant of health. It's not just about what you eat, it's about what you ate. A-T-E. Bad joke. Addressing social determinants of health is the most powerful form of medicine we will ever practice. In keeping with the theme, I'd like to leave you with this MLK quote. "Let justice roll down like water and righteousness as a mighty stream." Thank You.

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