Building Practice-Based Evidence for Community-Driven Social Determinants of Health Interventions 

As we recover from an unprecedented pandemic, we have an opportunity to leverage recent investments in the US public health system to address social determinants of health (SDOH), and practice-based evidence is needed to inform and strengthen future community-driven interventions.  

Healthy People 2030 includes an overarching goal that focuses on social determinants of health (SDOH): “Create social, physical, and economic environments that promote attaining the full potential for health and well-being for all.” As we recover from an unprecedented pandemic, we have an opportunity to leverage recent investments in the US public health system to advance this national SDOH goal. Multisector community partnerships (MCPs) are a key component of the public health approach to addressing SDOH and promoting health equity. The Improving SDOH—Getting Further Faster rapid retrospective evaluation is designed to gather practice-based insights from established MCPs to inform and strengthen future community-driven SDOH interventions.  

Year 1 Getting Further Faster Findings 

In the first year of the GFF evaluation, we identified key achievements and estimated the potential long-term impacts of MCPs’ SDOH interventions:  

  • MCPs helped increase their communities’ capacity to implement SDOH interventions; contributed to community changes that support healthy living; and helped improve chronic disease related outcomes among community members. 
  • Prevention Impacts Simulation Model (PRISM) analysis results estimated that sustained interventions could potentially save more than $560 million in productivity and medical costs cumulatively through 20 years. 

We also gathered actionable insights for funders and technical assistance (TA) providers, including the importance of promoting and providing resources to support meaningful community engagement. 

Year 2 GFF Approach 

In the second year of GFF, we have partnered with a subset of the initial GFF cohort of MCPs to  

  • identify and refine a set of measures that can be used to monitor and evaluate public health approaches to address SDOH, 
  • gather practice-based insights on the cost and sustainability of MCPs’ SDOH initiatives,  
  • examine the role of community coalitions in building community resilience, 
  • illuminate real-world models of health department and MCP collaborations, and 
  • explore the role of health care systems in MCPs. 

Implications for Policy and Practice 

Building practice-based evidence for community-driven SDOH interventions—including the resources and supports needed to help them overcome common implementation challenges—can help funders, TA providers, and MCPs leverage recent investments in our public health and health care systems to advance the Healthy People 2030 SDOH goal.  

Read the full practice brief report in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice:   

Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, is the director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP). Before joining NCCDPHP, Dr. Hacker served as director of the Allegheny County Health Department. Dr. Hacker received her MD from Northwestern University and MPH from Boston University. 

LaShawn Glasgow, DrPH, MPH, is an evaluator committed to advancing health equity. She worked for the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health before joining RTI International in 2008. She received her DrPH from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health and MPH from Rutgers School of Public Health.  

Erin Bayer, MPH, is the senior director of chronic disease and health improvement at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), where she is responsible for the overall vision and implementation of policy and systems change initiatives. Before joining ASTHO, Erin worked in state and local public health.  

Peter L. Holtgrave, MA, MPH, is senior director of public health infrastructure and systems at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), where he oversees the organization’s Performance Improvement, Workforce and Leadership Development, and Health Equity and Social Justice portfolios.