Healthy Communities Start with Access to Healthy Resources

February 19, 2024 | From Our View

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Over the past several decades, significant research has documented that our environment and our living conditions influence our health more than the medical care we receive. Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the modifiable factors that determine an individual’s health are separate from health care, including the following Social Determinants of Health (SDOH):

  • Availability of resources to meet daily needs
  • Access to educational, economic, and job opportunities, access to health care, and socioeconomic conditions
  • Physical determinants, such as natural environment and green space, housing, and community design
  • Physical barriers, especially for people with disabilities.

These factors shape the behaviors we engage in, including our eating and exercise habits, opportunities to access affordable healthy food, safe places to exercise, and our drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Together, those non-medical factors have more impact on our health than our health care. In turn, our health can impact our ability to lead a thriving life.

A key aspect for health systems in addressing SDOH is referring patients who have been screened for social needs to community resources. Fortunately, those in the Michigan 2-1-1 system can help identify and provide access to the right resources.

For more information on healthy communities, including resources available to you, call 2-1-1.