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Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants of health are conditions in the social and physical environment that affect health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Social determinants of health have a powerful influence on the well-being of people living in rural communities. Examples of social determinants of health include:

  • Access to educational and economic opportunities
  • Availability of affordable housing and food
  • Public safety
  • Community and social support

Poverty, educational attainment, race and ethnicity, English proficiency, and health literacy can also contribute an individual’s health and ability to access health and human services. Social and economic conditions have been shown to impact children’s health, in particular. Early childhood development programs such as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home-Visiting Program can increase access to health, social service, and child development professionals. Services integration programs are instrumental in addressing the social determinants of health.

For additional information on how social determinants and human services affect health, see the Human Services to Support Rural Health Topic Guide.