The term “social determinants of health” is academic in nature, but the concept is deeply rooted in community and population health. Recognizing this disconnect between terminology and practice, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation developed a white paper – A New Way to Talk about Social Determinants of Health. Not only is the idea of messaging important for clinicians and patients, but also for funders and legislators. In RWJF’s terms, “How do we find a common language that will expand Americans’ views about what it means to be healthy—to include not just where health ends but also where it starts?” Ultimately they did not find one perfect term that should replace “social determinants of health,” but did come up with a set of six phrases which resonated with tested audiences.
- Health starts—long before illness—in our homes, schools and jobs.
- All Americans should have the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their income, education or ethnic background.
- Your neighborhood or job shouldn’t be hazardous to your health.
- Your opportunity for health starts long before you need medical care.
- Health begins where we live, learn, work and play.
- The opportunity for health begins in our families, neighborhoods, schools and jobs.