Societal Factors That Influence Health

As community cornerstones, hospitals recognize that to improve health equity, we must address the societal factors that influence the health of patients and communities. Recent events — COVID-19 and the social unrest around racism and equity — add a sense of urgency to this essential work. Addressing the societal factors that influence health is a key strategy to improve health equity and value.

The AHA’s Societal Factors that Influence Health Framework is designed to guide hospitals’ strategies to address the social needs of their patients, social determinants of health in their communities and the systemic causes that lead to health inequities so the entire field can have meaningful conversations around these issues.

Societal Factors That Influence Health: A Framework for Hospitals

Societal Factors that Influence Health: A Framework for Hospitals. Three circles of different sizes with the small circle inside the medium circle, which are both inside the large circle. The large circle is labeled Systemic. Systemic Causes: The fundamental causes of the social inequities that lead to poor health. The medium circle is labeled Community. Social Determinants of Health: Underlying social and economic conditions that influence people's ability to be healthy. The small circle is labeled Person. Social Needs: Individuals' non-medical, social or economic circumstances that hinder their ability to stay healthy and/or recover from illness.


AHA Resources

Explore AHA’s growing repository of resources to support hospitals and their community stakeholders as they take action to address the societal factors that influence health.

Screening for Social Needs: Guiding Care Teams to Engage Patients

Screening for Social Needs: Guiding Care Teams to Engage Patients is a tool to help hospitals and health systems facilitate sensitive conversations with patients about their nonmedical needs that may be a barrier to good health. It is the latest effort by The Value Initiative to promote the field’s work to drive value by lowering cost and improving outcomes.


ICD-10-CM Coding for Social Determinants of Health

Numerous studies have demonstrated a link between the social determinants of health and key health outcomes. AHA has worked to promote widespread use of ICD-10-CM codes that enable provider to collect data on the social determinants of health.


Addressing Social Determinants of Health Presentation

Social determinants of health – where we live, work and play – have tremendous affect on one’s health, and they can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, ethnicity.  Help your organization and community better understand how social determinants impact your patients and neighbors as well as what hospitals are doing to address this important aspect of health, and what resources AHA has to help you further tackle related challenges including food insecurity and lack of transportation.


Food Insecurity and the Role of Hospitals guide cover

Social Determinants of Health Guides

AHA is producing a series of guides on how hospitals can address various social determinants of health. Below are the topics covered to date:

  • Food Insecurity and the Role of Hospitals
  • Housing and the Role of Hospitals
  • Transportation and the Role of Hospitals

Care Well: Addressing Social Determinants of Health from Bedside to Boardroom page 1

Social Determinants of Health Curriculum for Clinicians

To help clinicians address social determinants, the AHA’s Physician Alliance created a web-based virtual expedition to train and equip staff with how-to actions and companion resources. Modules include an overview of social determinants, introduction to upstream quality improvement, and a focus on addressing food and housing insecurity as well as transportation.

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