Maintaining good health is more than physical upkeep. It involves fostering a safe and healthy environment throughout our community, including our schools, homes, and neighborhoods.

If severe threats are present in several aspects of our community, we cannot expect ourselves to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition to our personal relationships and social environment, our access to certain resources and opportunities also have an impact on the health of our community.

These social factors, or social determinants of health, are often what determine a healthy, productive environment .  

Healthy People 2020 developed an organizing framework reflecting the five key areas of social determinants of health (SDOH): 

  • Economic Stability
  • Education
  • Social and Community Context
  • Health and Health Care
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment



Each of these five determinant areas reflects a number of critical components/key issues that make up the underlying factors in the arena of SDOH.

  • Economic Stability
    • Poverty
    • Employment
    • Food Security
    • Housing Stability

Income determines the sense of financial security in a household, and lack thereof can have a dangerously negative impact on family health. 14.3% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2010, 20.7% of which were children. 

  • Education
    • High School Graduation
    • Enrollment in Higher Education
    • Language and Literacy
    • Early Childhood Education and Development

The education system is crucial to creating a healthy environment for children and adolescents outside their homes. A community with poor quality schools will be less likely to have a high graduation rate, preventing its students from developing an efficient work ethic or finding a secure job. In 2010, only 68.1% of high school seniors pursued a higher education in the fall after graduation. 

  • Social and Community Context
    • Social Cohesion
    • Civic Participation
    • Perceptions of Discrimination and Equity
    • Incarceration/Institutionalization

A strong network of social and emotional support can also help create a healthy environment. Adolescents with a strong, positive adult presence in their lives are less likely to be incarcerated for or violent crimes or perpetuate them.  

  • Health and Health Care
    • Access to Health Care
    • Access to Primary Care
    • Health Literacy

Access to health care and regular visits to a primary care physician are significant factors in achieving health equity. Disease prevention, higher life expectancy, improved quality of life, and preventable death are among the benefits of regular access  to health care.  

Neighborhood and Built Environment

  • Access to Healthy Foods
  • Quality of Housing
  • Crime and Violence
  • Environmental Conditions

Dietary deficiencies often ensue in a community due to its lack of access to proper, affordable food grocers. Areas with high crime rates and regular incidents of violence can induce severe stress, and severely impact young children. Water quality, air quality, risks related to toxins and waste, and household hygiene contribute to levels/instances of nutritional deficiency and disease.

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