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June 09, 2008

On Socioeconomic Status and Health

Maybe there is hope after all.  A primary theme of MH Blog over the last 6-8 months has been the relative lack of attention paid to the social determinants of health in thinking about health policy.  However, when the New England Journal of Medicine runs an Editorial entitled Beyond Health Care -- Socioeconomic Status and Health (free full-text), co-authored by a social epidemiologist, no less, perhaps there is reason for cautious optimism.

Indeed, there are some signs that the policyscape may be shifting trajectories ever so slightly, what with the Commission to Build a Healthier America's focus on SDOH, the recent Health Affairs theme issue, Steven Woolf's recent article in JAMA.  Whether this discourse will translate into actual policy change remains, unfortunately, quite cloudy, IMO.  And in a society in which we cannot even marshal the support needed to insure basic care for its residents, I admit to skepticism that we can effect the wholescale changes in conception, allocation, and understanding (of health and illness) that would need to happen to bring about change in this arena.


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