In a recent survey conducted by The Root Cause Coalition (TRCC), researchers found the general population considers economic stability and access to health care the most impactful social determinants of health (SDoH).

TRCC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing SDoH through cross-sector partnerships, interviewed 1,200 participants, age 18 or older and U.S. residents, in October 2020 about their awareness and opinions on SDoH and other related issues. TRCC plans to use the results to raise public awareness and guide education and advocacy work.

Researchers found that more than half of the survey participants (52 percent) had never even heard of the term “social determinants of health,” whereas 27 percent of participants heard of the term but were unsure of what it meant. Researchers provided survey participants with the definition of SDoH, which they described as the conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality of life outcomes and risks. They also segmented SDoH into five primary categories:

  1. Economic stability
  2. Education
  3. Social and community context
  4. Health and health care
  5. Neighborhood and environment

Although a large portion of survey participants were unfamiliar with the term “social determinants of health,” two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents believe societal conditions impact a person’s health, and 59 percent of participants believe each person has a responsibility for the health and well-being of the greater community.

Other key insights from the survey:

  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents feel it is important to address SDoH, with those most likely to believe it’s important being city residents (67 percent) and Black Americans (66 percent)
  • Participants ranked the most impactful SDoH as economic stability (30 percent), health care knowledge and access (27 percent), education (16 percent), neighborhood and environment (14 percent), and social and community context (13 percent)
  • The aspects respondents cited as having an impact on their own family’s health include economic stability (21 percent), crime, violence, and social disorder (18 percent), and racial or social discrimination (14 percent)
  • The top three factors respondents believe would have the greatest impact on a family’s health include health care services (37 percent), nourishing food (27 percent), and affordable housing (26 percent)
  • Respondents believe those most responsible for addressing SDoH include federal government agencies (42 percent), local/state/federal policymakers (40 percent), and public health departments (31 percent)