Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)
The importance of including SDOH data in biomedical research was made especially apparent by the emergence of COVID-19, which overwhelmingly impacted vulnerable populations and people of color. Taking a more holistic approach to preventing and treating diseases and disorders will help improve public health, especially in these vulnerable populations.
Dr. Deborah Guadalupe Duran will define SDOH and health disparities; provide examples of SDOH’s impact on health outcomes; present the challenges of collecting and using SDOH data; and offer a new socio-cultural approach for including SDOH in biomedical research and policies.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines SDOH as the factors in the environment in which people live, work, learn, and age that, when combined with biological and behavioral aspects, affect a wide range of health conditions, functions, risks, and quality-of-life outcomes (CDC; Healthy People 2020).
Negative health outcomes linked to SDOH include:
- high incidence/prevalence and an earlier onset or more aggressive progression of disease.
- premature or excessive mortality from specific conditions.
- significant global burden of disease, such as disability-adjusted life years, as measured by population health metrics.
- unhealthy behaviors, leading to adverse clinical outcomes.
- poor outcomes on validated self-reported measures of daily functioning or symptoms related to specific conditions.
Dr. Deborah Guadalupe Duran is the senior advisor to the director for data science, analytics, and systems. She advises the NIMHD director on the state of the field and supports initiatives within the larger NIH and HHS. She also assists in coordinating NIMHD efforts to better represent minorities and SDOH in large data sets, addresses biases in emerging technologies, and works to ensure that NIMHD has a voice in NIH’s efforts on data harmonization and management. Most recently, Dr. Duran has helped raise awareness of the importance of data science and common data elements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Duran has a doctorate in social psychology with a minor in research methodologies and statistics from the University of Denver and a master’s degree in computer science from Nova Southeastern University. In 2000 and 2004, Dr. Duran received the HHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service.
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