National Academy of Medicine

An Environmental Scan of Recent Initiatives Incorporating Social Determinants in Public Health

By Denise Koo, Patrick W. O’Carroll, Andrea Harris, and Karen B. DeSalvo
June 30, 2016 | Discussion Paper

The foundational importance of social, environmental, and economic factors as determinants of health has long been recognized. Until recently, this recognition had resulted in few sustained, organized efforts to positively influence these determinants to foster health at the community level. In recent years, however, numerous efforts have arisen across the United States that explicitly seek to improve the public’s health by catalyzing collaboration across multiple societal sectors, with the goal of leveraging policy, systems, and environmental changes to drive sustained improvements in the public’s health. Many are using concepts such as “Health in All Policies” and collective impact to structure their efforts. These initiatives vary in scope and scale, and they address the challenge of multisector approaches to the social determinants in a variety of ways, often innovating as they evolve.

These efforts are laudable and offer much to adapt and apply in communities across the country. To begin to systematize such cross-sector, expansive approaches to community health, in this article we identify, categorize, and describe an array of multisector initiatives and collaborations currently underway across the United States that explicitly include attention to social, economic, and environmental factors to foster community health and well-being.



Suggested Citation

Koo, D., P. W. O’Carroll, A. Harris, and K. B. DeSalvo. 2016. An Environmental Scan of Recent Initiatives Incorporating Social Determinants in Public Health. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. doi: 10.31478/201606f


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.