Targeting Social Determinants of Health through Inclusive Programming



Kids lpaying basketball

Social determinants of health are social factors which can contribute to our health.  We may not always take into consideration that factors such as income, social support, stress, social exclusion, neighborhood environments and education can have a profound impact on health.  Additionally, one social determinant can actually lead to another and in many cases often does. For example, if you are unemployed, you are more likely to live in poor conditions and lack transportation. In this situation a person may not have the resources to go to a doctor for a medical issue, purchase healthy food, or engage in physical activity.  For more information on social determinants of health,                    visit the CDC Web site.

 Research has shown that healthcare alone cannot counteract the effects of these factors on health.  Interventions and programming, both on the local and more global level, are needed that target these social factors.  These interventions must be inclusive of all populations, including people with disabilities whose health can often have an even greater likelihood of being affected by these determinants.

Creating or adapting your interventions and programs in order to make them more inclusive of everyone is a process, and possibly an intimidating one.   However, simply having the right attitude is a huge step in the right direction.  If you are willing and open to creating modifications to accommodate even one person so he or she can benefit from your program, then you are on your way to being more inclusive.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Worksite health promotion programs must be inclusive and consider appropriate modifications for current (or future) employees with disabilities.  Maybe you don’t have any employees with disabilities now, but one day you may.   Plus, your current employees are aging, increasing the likelihood of age-related activity limitations.  Encouraging healthy behaviors now for people of all abilities can possibly help avoid or delay these limitations or secondary conditions AND improve worker productivity and/or attendance.
  • By including the caregiver or other support provider within a program, you can help not only with the success of the individual with a disability but also increase your success rate twofold!
  • It may be the case that someone can’t get to your facility to participate in a program, whether its because of transportation or another issue.   When this occurs, try to find ways to make your program, or even pieces of it, accessible from a remote location, whether online or through another method.
  • Maybe you don’t have any idea of how to get started, nor do you feel you have the time or resources to make the necessary changes up front in order to make your program more inclusive.  You have to start somewhere, right?  So, start by making sure your marketing materials and targeted audiences are diverse and that you make it known that anyone is invited to participate.  You can then make the changes individually as those people sign up.  Ask the individual what type of accommodations he or she may need in order to benefit from your program, and go from there.
  • Any other suggestions???  Please share!