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Addressing Social Determinants of Health in Healthcare Settings

Rural communities across the country recognize the ways that social determinants of health (SDOH) shape the ability of rural residents to live healthy lives and access necessary care. Access to quality, affordable healthcare services is an important SDOH that is critical to improving health outcomes and reducing health disparities. Barriers to healthcare access in rural communities can include factors such as a lack of access to reliable transportation, shortage of primary and specialty care providers, and a lack of health insurance coverage. Increasingly, healthcare settings are finding ways to address SDOH.

This toolkit describes 4 models and approaches for improving health outcomes and increasing healthcare access to address SDOH:

While increasing access to healthcare services and improving the healthcare system in rural areas is a critical step towards addressing SDOH, research shows that other factors should be considered. Many health outcomes are related to individual social and economic experiences, rather than healthcare access. Therefore, in some instances healthcare approaches to address SDOH should be coupled with other approaches described in the following sections: