Improving Community Health

Academic Health Centers and the Social Determinants of Health

Academic health centers are increasingly incorporating the social determinants of health (SDOH) in their approaches to improve individual and population health.

What are the Social Determinants of Health?

An individual’s health prospects are shaped by a variety of factors beyond what has been inherited (genetics) and the medical care that is received. These factors are called the social determinants of health (SDOH). They include an individual’s social circumstances, environment, and behavioral patterns.

AAHC Social Determinants of Health Initiative

In 2012, the AAHC Board of Directors formally endorsed the Association’s Social Determinants of Health Initiative. The initiative’s purpose is to assist AAHC member institutions to incorporate the social determinants of health in their education, research, and clinical care missions.

  • Our Vision: For all academic health centers to acknowledge and account for the important role the social determinants of health play in the overall health and well-being of patients, populations, and communities; and respond to these critical factors in their education, clinical, and research programs.
  • Our Goal: To develop, evaluate, share, and pilot tools and strategies for academic health centers to address the social determinants of health; and to help academic health centers demonstrate measurable improvements in the health and well-being of communities and populations.

The AAHC Social Determinants of Health Initiative provides programs and resources to help member institutions and partners collaborate to better address SDOH in the communities they serve, including an online toolkit , webinars , publications, and meetings .

Click here to read more about the SDOH Initiative.

Where Health Begins: An Online Toolkit for Collaboration

AAHC provides an online toolkit as a resource for member institutions and interested stakeholders as part of its effort to build a national movement and facilitate communication, collaboration, and leadership in addressing the social determinants of health.

The Where Health Begins Toolkit contains:

Visit for more information.