FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Stephanie A. Wilken
Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 6053
LEAWOOD, Kan. — A thirty-three-year-old mother of two does not have reliable transportation. She requires regular visits to her family physician to monitor and treat her diabetes. Between work, arranging childcare, and trying to get to a grocery store that offers fresh food so she can feed her family a healthy meal, she has little time to focus on her chronic and life-threatening condition. This woman’s life is ruled by social determinants of health — complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems that are responsible for most health inequities. But there is help available to her, and it comes from her family physician.
Research demonstrates the link between health and income stability, education, social and community conditions, access to health care services and housing, healthy food and opportunities for exercise. Those who struggle with stable employment, grapple with low income, and live in inadequate housing and food deserts are more likely to have poor health.
As part of its ongoing commitment to address social determinants of health, the American Academy of Family Physicians is launching a month-long push during Minority Health Month to promote tools and resources to help its members address SDOH, and, in turn, help improve public health by addressing health inequities.
“While family physicians work continuously to address social determinants of health, Minority Health Month is the perfect opportunity to bring more awareness to this growing and dire public health crisis,” said Michael Munger, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “We treat patients of every age and are positioned to be the first point of contact, able to access and address the health inequities our patients face.
“Family physicians not only treat the diseases you can see, but we also treat the social and economic factors that negatively impact our patients’ health. We can help guide patients to resources such as housing, transportation and education, can provide counsel on healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise and nutrition, and introduce patients to healthy food options in their communities.”
The AAFP campaign aligns with Minority Health Month as part of a long-term, ongoing effort to take a leadership role in addressing diversity and SDOH as they impact individuals, families and communities across the lifespan. The AAFP created the Center for Diversity and Health Equity to provide opportunities to become a more thoughtful and visible leader for diversity and health equity. And, the Center’s The EveryONE Project is designed to help family physicians take action and confront health disparities head-on.
In 2018, The EveryONE Project launched its toolkit for physicians. With rolling releases throughout the year, the project provides point-of-care screening tools and resources to quickly and effectively evaluate patients, act when needed and link to community resources.
“The EveryONE Project Toolkit is the prefect resources to help physicians address social determinants of health,” Munger said. “The resource helps physicians ask the right questions, so we can get a very clear picture of our patients’ lives — because when we know what our patients are up against, that’s when we can help provide the care and connect them with the resources they need to change the trajectory of their life and improve their health.
“Addressing social determinants of health is just one piece of the puzzle,” Munger said. “We start with one patient, then their family, then the community. Together we increase health equity across the population and improve the quality of life for everyone.”
The AAFP created its media kit titled Social Determinants of Health.
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.