In fact, a 2019 study in the journal JAMA Network Open found that social factors increased the risk of developing chronic diseases including hypertension and type-2 diabetes.
Factors like geography can also affect access to healthcare.
A recent article in Health Affairs found in rural areas with a high representation of Black or American Indian/Alaska Native populations, people were significantly farther from healthcare services than in areas with white populations.
Although SDoH have traditionally been an area of focus for Medicare and Medicaid populations, they increasingly are becoming prevalent in the commercial market and employer space.
A 2021 study in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, which looked at a commercially-insured population, found the following were significant barriers to care:
- work responsibilities
Fortunately, employer-sponsored programs or benefits that address these SDoH barriers could help, the same study found.
As employers continue to look for ways to improve their employees’ health, wellbeing, and performance at work, as well as recruit and retain top talent, addressing SDoH is vital, yet not without challenges.
In fact, a recent report by the Northeast Business Group on Health found that while employers have invested a significant amount of money in solutions such as wellness programs, digital health, and centers of excellence programs, few of these solutions have effectively addressed the SDoH.