Experts tell us that 80 percent of a person’s overall health is driven by social and environmental factors and the behavior influenced by them, better known as social determinants of health, or SDOH. SDOH accounts for findings in a Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) study where average life expectancy in Wake County, NC was 80 years and just 73 years in Martin County, NC, which is only 93 miles away. SDOH means where you live has a lot to do with how long you can expect to live.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines SDOH as, “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” These “forces and systems” include factors such as income, social support, early childhood development, education, employment, and housing.  This means two communities close to each other can have dramatically different health profiles depending on their unique combination of social and health factors. Any weaknesses in the social support framework in a community, such as high unemployment, suboptimal education, or lack of affordable housing can shorten the length of life and degrade the quality of life for people living there.

In order to reduce the harm caused by SDOH, people in local communities need to work together to mount an effective effort to address these social determinants as root causes of poor health.   

Unfortunately, physicians, healthcare teams, social workers, local government leadership, and the lay public across North Carolina may lack key knowledge necessary to get started addressing the impacts of SDOH to their communities, especially in poor and rural areas.  This includes basic knowledge on what SDOH are and how they work, readily available resources to assist communities, and ideas on how to get started on SDOH-related projects.

To address this knowledge gap, Charlotte AHEC has developed a series of educational videos that can be viewed with or without continuing education (CE) credit. Consisting of 15 brief videos, the Social Determinants of Health: You Can Reduce Health Inequalities in Your Community series is appealing to busy learners across the state who may not have the time for traditional programming. The focused microlearning format, which runs around 5 minutes per module, is based on the County Health Rankings Model factors (e.g. tobacco use, diet & exercise, community safety). Learners an watch a complete video on a smartphone while standing in line at the grocery store.

In addition, this video series:

  • utilizes an online, mobile-friendly methodology designed to provide an engaging, highly effective, and highly accessible educational program on the topic of SDOH. 
  • underscores (1) how SDOH harms communities, (2) how SDOH relates to the root causes of reduced lifespan and quality of life, and (3) how to get started with an improvement project right now. 
  • shares both essential theory and practical strategies on how to help people at risk for poor outcomes due to SDOH factors, utilizing eye-opening statistics to underscore harmful SDOH impacts to communities.
  • uses brightly colored animation and infographics designed to increase learner engagement as an alternative to the typical video “talking head” approach.
  • is suitable for assisting health care professionals, local government, community groups, and individuals in working on SDOH-related projects to learn concepts and get ideas for projects that do not require large scale funding.

To view these modules and receive CE credit, follow this link: https://www.charlotteahec.org/continuing-professional-development/event.cfm?eventid=60962

To view the videos without credit, follow this link:  https://www.charlotteahec.org/health-careers/sdoh.cfm

SPECIAL THANKS TO DAVID HAINLINE AND MARIA VÉLEZ FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS