Shaping Nursing Healthcare Policy: A View from the Inside - Chapter 7: The evolving role of social determinants of health to advance health equity

Elsevier, Shaping Nursing Healthcare Policy: A View from the Inside, 2022, Pages 91-105
Davis S.

Efforts are steadily increasing to address social determinants of health (SDH) within healthcare delivery systems. Policies and practices in nonhealth sectors impact health and health equity. Therefore, the crux of health policies and interventions is a clear and accurate understanding of how and why the social determinants differentially impact health, healthcare, and health outcomes. The fundamental drivers of health inequities are the fundamental drivers of social inequities. The concept that health and health inequities are driven by social determinants is increasingly the focus of nursing articles, conferences, courses, vision statements, toolkits, research, and scholarly projects. Addressing social conditions that impact health is not new to nursing but, an upstream perspective that focuses on (1) systems and structures, (2) policy and politics, (3) historical drivers of disparities, and (4) structural racism as a root cause of health inequities is new. Historical and contemporary policies have created the structures that shape the SDH and have profound and enduring effects on our patients' health, healthcare, and health outcomes. Nurses can lead social change but only with a clear understanding of SDH and its evolving role in advancing health equity.