Study finds gap between patients and providers in perception of social health determinants

Gaps in patients' and providers' perceptions of social determinants of health could affect policymakers' designs for social programs, according to a report from the Anthem Public Policy Institute.

To study the issue, researchers analyzed text in policy and research papers and compared it to text in online patient forums. They found providers tend to focus on big-picture, structural issues, while patients focus more on day-to-day health concerns.

For example, patients often discussed the importance of social support from friends and family and access to healthy foods. In contrast, researchers and journalists emphasize the role of educational and income inequalities, issues that are more difficult and expensive to solve.

The report calls for policymakers to more closely address the issues patients say are most important to them, citing recent research that claims spending on small-scale concerns such as food and housing security increases overall health.

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