Understanding how social determinants of health (SDOH) and health-related social needs (HRSN) affect a person’s overall health is critical to reducing health disparities.

Social determinants of health are the conditions in the environment where people are born, live, work, and play. Healthy People 2030 categorizes SDOH into five groups:

  1. Economic Stability
  2. Education Access and Quality
  3. Health Care Access and Quality
  4. Neighborhood and Built Environment
  5. Social and Community Context

While SDOH is the broad term for social conditions, health-related social needs are more immediate needs for an individual or family. HRSNs include housing insecurity, food insecurity, or lack of reliable transportation, which can lead to decreased health.

High quality healthcare is important; however, estimates indicate that only about 20% of a person’s health is based on their access to healthcare. This means a person’s social, environmental, and behavioral conditions can determine up to 80% of their overall health.

In order to better assist people who have health-related social needs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services developed “The Accountable Health Communities Health-Related Social Needs Screening Tool.”

The tool isn’t standard practice yet. Rather, the tool, developed by a panel of experts, is being shared for awareness and a way to start identifying where people need help and how to help them.

Identifying SDOH and HRSN needs is the driving force behind creating health equity, not health equality. Health equity is working toward every person having a fair opportunity to achieve their full health potential, which is something deserved.


Defining Health Equity – National DPP Coverage Toolkit

Social Determinants of Health – Healthy People 2030 | health.gov