RISE looks at recent headlines concerning social determinants of health (SDoH).

HHS: Office of Civil Rights, Arizona State Court aim to improve access for individuals with Limited English Proficiency

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that the Maricopa Superior Court (MSC) in Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, will be taking several new steps to provide individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) equitable access to fair court proceedings, programs, and activities.

MSC’s latest efforts come on the heels of a recent compliance review conducted by the OCR due to complaints alleging LEP individuals had not received language services in child welfare dependency and neglect proceedings, a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To improve its language access services the MSC has collaborated with the OCR to ensure they notify LEP individuals of the availability of free language assistance services as well as audio and video recording of a court hearing.

“The HHS Office for Civil Rights is proud of its work with the Maricopa Superior Court to help persons with limited English proficiency who live in Arizona better seek justice and exercise their rights,” said OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer, in a statement. “Federal civil rights laws require that we take steps to provide meaningful access to programs and services and today’s announcement is a step forward for communities in Arizona, including those who primarily speak Spanish and other non-English languages. We hope others, including other court systems, look at this model work and seek to improve their programs and services. OCR looks forward to working with other partners to make improvements for our communities.”

Study: SDoH impact health outcomes of Black pediatric heart transplant patients but not white

SDoH play a key role in the post-heart transplant outcomes of Black, but not white, children, according to a recent study published by the American Heart Association Journals.

For the study, which used the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society (PHTS) database to examine all pediatric heart transplants in the U.S. from January 2010 to December 2020, researchers looked at patient ZIP codes to determine whether they lived in “prosperous” or “distressed” neighborhoods.

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Of the 3,680 children who received transplants, nearly 52 percent resided in prosperous communities and 48 percent in distressed ones. Black children from distressed communities experienced higher rates of rejection. White children, however, did not experience a higher rate of rejection.

RI Life Index reveals decline in individual’s perceptions of SDoH

For the fourth year, researchers at Brown University’s School of Public Health, in collaboration with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, have conducted a survey to learn about Rhode Islanders’ perceptions about SDoH to use the insights to improve communities and address inequities.

For the survey, researchers identified four core cities where a quarter or more of all children live below the federal poverty level to compare to non-core cities. For each question, respondents rated their city from 0-100 on a range of topic areas related to SDoH. This year’s findings, gathered from nearly 2,100 interviews from April through June of 2022, show individuals’ perceptions of SDoH have taken a downward turn in several areas.

Key takeaways include:

  • The RI Life Index was 59 out of 100, a four-point decline from last year. The overall rating focused on areas including affordable housing, childcare and youth activities, quality education, food security, employment opportunities, health care access, programs for seniors, transportation, feeling safe at home, and cost of living.
  • The lowest rated areas included cost of living, with a score of 26 and affordable housing, with a score of 33.
  • The highest rated areas included programs and services for children, with a score of 72; racial equity, scored at 73; and food security, scored at 80.
  • Core cities rated all topic areas lower than non-core cities, except for affordable housing, which was rated equally across cities.
  • White respondents rated higher than Latinx and Black respondents.

“Now in its fourth year, this survey offers crucial information about how Rhode Islanders are faring through the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially about the health barriers facing people of color and people living in lower socioeconomic communities,” said Megan L. Ranney, Ph.D, deputy dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, in a statement. “This data offers policy makers, public health practitioners, and community leaders the information we all need as we seek to eliminate health inequities in our state.”