The Rural Health Information Hub and the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis recently introduced the Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit, designed to support organizations implementing programs to address social determinants of health in rural communities.

Healthy People 2020 defines Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) as ‘conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality of life outcomes and risks’.

Addressing social determinants of health means targeting the root causes that can contribute to poor health. Multiple social determinants of health impact health and well-being, including racism and discrimination, income and poverty, and housing quality and affordability, to name a few.

Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit LogoThe toolkit highlights promising approaches and resources to help rural communities address the social determinants of health. Each toolkit module includes information and resources for planning, implementing, evaluating, sustaining, and disseminating programs in rural communities. There’s also a Clearinghouse which contains information about promising rural communities.

Addressing social determinants of health in rural communities is quite challenging. With North Dakota and South Dakota both experiencing a decline in rural areas, this is an incredibly important topic. Fortunately, an emphasis on addressing these issues from community organizations, foundations and the federal government is underway. Access this toolkit for some unique approaches to housing issues, food shortages, transportation barriers and health access issues.