Understanding Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health are the circumstances in our environment – where we live, learn, work, and play – that can affect our health and well-being. For example, our health can be negatively affected if we lack adequate food, secure housing, if we live with high stress or in social isolation.

Why does this matter to Lone Star Circle of Care? We care about our patients’ quality of life and want to partner with you to achieve good health. So we need to ask about the circumstances in your environment that might be affecting your health.

Scientists have studied many factors that determine a person’s health and well-being. Although the quality of our health is somewhat related to having access to good healthcare, they estimate that the biggest determinant of health comes from our behaviors (things like smoking, diet, and exercise). And a full 20% of the risk to our health comes from social and environmental factors – or social determinants of health. (Source: Schroeder, SA. We Can Do Better – Improving the Health of the American People. NEJM, 2007.)

Lone Star Circle of Care has partnered with the National Association of Community Health Centers to study the social determinants of health in our patients (supported by grants from the Episcopal Health Foundation and St. David’s Foundation). Data is collected in the PRAPARE (Protocol for Responding to and Assessing Patients’ Assets, Risks, and Experiences) survey tool. It’s a national effort to help health centers collect the data needed to better understand and act on their patients’ social determinants of health.

Lone Star Circle of Care is excited to partner with Aunt Bertha in this project. Aunt Bertha is an online platform that connects people in need with services that can help them, such as food, health, housing, job training and education programs.

In the past several weeks, we have emailed more than 26,000 adult patients a link to the PRAPARE survey. When a patient submits the answers to that survey, they are automatically linked to Aunt Bertha and are given a list of programs in their zip code that address the needs identified in the survey.

Thank you to our patients who have taken the time to respond to the survey. We look forward to studying the results, identifying some of the biggest needs, and working with local partners to bring the services that are most needed in our communities.