Leveraging the Social Determinants of Health: What Works?

Lauren A. Taylor
Annabel Xulin Tan
Caitlin E. Coyle
Chima Ndumele
Erika Rogan
Maureen Canavan
Leslie A. Curry
Elizabeth H. Bradley
Journal Article
August 2016

This resource provides a literature review of existing empirical evidence about the impact of social service interventions on health outcomes and health care spending, based on 39 articles published between 2004 and 2014.

  • Of the 39 studies, 32 demonstrated a positive outcome in health outcomes, reduced spending, or both.
  • The majority of the studies focused on low-income populations.
  • Among the 32 studies with positive outcomes, 10 (31 percent) were related to housing, seven (22 percent) to nutrition, four (13 percent) to income support, eight (25 percent) to care coordination and community outreach programs, and three (9 percent) to other types of interventions.
  • Keeping a population healthy may require medical providers to link with unconventional partners such as housing authorities, food banks, and schools.
  • It may make sense to expand the scope of services that case managers and care coordinators manage, particularly for health systems that have transitioned to value-based financing or accountable care models.
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Population Addressed
People with Multiple Chronic Conditions
People with Behavioral Health and Social Needs
Key Questions Answered
  • Do social service interventions have an impact on health outcomes and costs?
  • What are the implications for health care practice?
Level of Evidence
What does this mean?