The Nation's Health

Visit the website for The Nation’s Health, the official newspaper of APHA,   Read the headlines of the current issue to get an idea of the range of topics encompassed by the field of public health.

Reviewing some of the articles in the current issue, a couple of them seem to bring focus on the social determinants that can cause disparities in healthcare. The article titled “Shift toward social determinants transforming public health work: Targeting causes of health disparities” (Krisberg, 2016) uses some cases from Wayne County, Michigan. The initial focus in Wayne county was to reduce infant mortality, as it was double in the black population compared to white. One determinant identified was poor prenatal care among blacks and that the root cause (barrier) was transportation. The pregnant woman did not have adequate transportation to get prenatal care. So the public health department approached the transportation department to help remove the barrier for prenatal care. The transportation department initially did not see the point or understand why they were being involved with this problem.   They did eventually see the problem as being more than a health problem and assisted the health department in educating people on various transportation options and shuttles to get to various appointments.

Social determinants are widely becoming the focus in public health. In 2011, the APHA was able to attribute deaths to things such as low education, racial segregation, low social support and individual poverty (Krisberg, 2016).

Looking closer to home, here in Maine, we may not see all the same determinants. However, we may see some very similar. We are fortunate to live in the southern part of the state where there is a higher income and better education. But we still have the highest homeless population in the state. So we do have the individuals living in poverty, suffering with addiction, lacking transportation to...