Access to medical services alone does not create and support optimal health for individuals and families. Over the past decade physicians and other health professions have begun to discover the link between what the World Health Organization refers to as the “Social Determinants of Health” and overall health outcomes. The impact of factors such as housing, socioeconomic status, education, social support, gender and culture have been well documented as key influencers of a patient’s health and response to treatment. (Raphael,2009). In fact, they may have more influence over health outcomes than access to medical services alone.
These are the issues which social workers focus almost exclusively on in their healthcare practice. Social Workers are the members of the interprofessional team who bring the knowledge and the skillset to address these determinants. Their interventions can improve lives while increasing the likelihood that the medical treatment and resources offered will be effective. Attending to the Social Determinants affecting health status offers an opportunity to optimize patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs and build healthier families and communities.
The ability to identify the Social Determinants as inextricably linked to healthcare social work practice has the potential to legitimize and support the placement of social workers in all healthcare arenas. The presentation will provide an overview of the research related to the Social Determinants of Health, describe how these determinants can be used as the basis for psychosocial assessments and treatment and provide a rationale for social workers to be key players in healthcare services of the future.
Workshop outcomes :
- Gain an understanding of research supporting the link between the Social Determinants of Health and healthcare outcomes;
- Identify how these Determinants can be used as the basis for assessments, interventions and evaluation of outcomes;
- Be introduced to an electronic standardized psychosocial assessment tool which can be used to communicate effectively and efficiently with other care providers and to educate on the focus of social work practice in healthcare.