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Internists Say Examining Social Determinants of Health Can Improve Patient Care, Promote Health Equity

Washington, D.C. April 19, 2018 – Taking a closer look at social determinants of health can improve the quality of patient care and foster better health care outcomes, the American College of Physicians (ACP) said today during a press briefing at ACP’s Internal Medicine Meeting 2018. The briefing discussed ways to reduce inequalities in health care and how ACP and other medical professionals can promote health equity.

Members of the panel included Jack Ende, MD, MACP, president, ACP; Sarah Candler, MD, MPH; and Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc.

Earlier this week, ACP released a new policy paper, “Addressing Social Determinants to Improve Patient Care and Promote Health Equity,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on April 17, outlining how social determinants of health – non-medical factors that can affect an individual’s health, including conditions in which people are born, work, and live – often have a significant impact on health outcomes across the United States.

“Clinical excellence alone will not be enough to bring health and well-being to our patients ,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc. “It’s crucial for physicians to understand that care plans for our patients must include understanding and addressing the social factors that have an impact on their health.”

ACP’s paper says that research has shown that where a person is born and the social circumstances they experience can have an impact on their health, and physicians should develop a broader understanding of how social or environmental determinants may affect a patient’s ability to adhere to a care plan, a prescription, or a physician’s advice.

“We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to implement policies that reduce socioeconomic and environmental inequalities that significantly impact patient health, with an increased focus on wellness and prevention,” said Jack Ende, MD, MACP, president, ACP. “Ultimately, a greater focus on social determinants of health can enable physicians to become stronger advocates for patients.”

About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 152,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.