VA’s Office of Health Equity champions the advancement of health equity and the reduction of health disparities in Veterans. This episode of Leave No Veteran Behind discusses social determinants of health and how they can negatively affect Veterans’ health.

We will also discuss how social determinants can be addressed in clinical care to ensure the best quality care for Veterans.

In this episode, Lauren Russell, Dr. Johanne Eliacin and Dr. Alicia Cohen engage in a discussion of the role social determinants of health have in influencing Veterans’ health outcomes.

Lauren Russell is the co-access lead for the VA New England Healthcare System. The project manager and implementation lead for the Addressing Circumstances & Offering Resources for Needs (ACORN) initiative aims to identify and address Veterans’ health-related social needs.

Eliacin is a research health scientist with the Center for Health Information and Communication at the Roudebush VA Medical Center.

Cohen is a physician at the Providence VA Medical Center in Rhode Island.

Perspectives on social determinants

Russell, Eliacin and Cohen share their perspectives on social determinants of health, which are defined as the conditions in which people live, work and play, and the broader policies and environments which shape daily life.

They discuss how social determinants can directly impact health in unhealthy living conditions, for example. Still, they can also influence social and economic opportunities, which can also affect access to health care. Social determinants can exacerbate chronic diseases and create new health conditions.

Among Veterans specifically, Cohen describes how some of her patients face tremendous health problems due to a lack of food and housing security or regular work. In this way, they discuss how social determinants are critical to consider in clinical care. They can implement screening tools to uncover and address social determinants underlying poor health among Veterans.

We invite you to check out the Health Equity podcast on all your favorite places to listen to podcasts. The link is Veterans Health Equity: Leave No Veteran Behind – Podcast – Office of Health Equity ( Visit Patient Care Services website to learn more about Health Equity information, research, topics, training, and more.

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