Study finds social determinants of health affect overall population's health: 7 insights

A Moody's Analytics report released in December linked the social determinants of health, which include economic status and demographics, to a patients' vulnerability to chronic diseases and other clinical conditions. 

For the report, which Moody's Analytics prepared for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, researchers reviewed data from the BCBS Health Index, which collects information on more than 40 million BCBS members and calculates how different diseases and conditions affect quality of life.

The report analyzed county-level socioeconomic factors ,which included age, race, education, family structure, average annual pay, employment rate, population density and 10-year growth in income per capita. The report also examined behavioral factors, which included physical activity, preventable hospital stays, smoking and obesity.

Here are seven report insights.

1. The study determined five physical conditions — high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, hypertension, chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease and diabetes — have a strong relationship with socioeconomic and behavioral factors. 

2. There was no correlation between depression and hyperactivity in relation to socioeconomic and behavioral factors. 

3. There was a moderate correlation between breast cancer, lung cancer and substance use disorder in relation to socioeconomic and behavioral factors. 

4. The report noted better health is often associated with a strong economy, higher pay and less densely populated areas.

5. The report found poorer counties fostered poorer health and individuals experienced more burden from their health conditions.

6. Although worse health outcomes are associated with more populous urban areas, individuals in those places reported lower levels of depression and substance abuse disorders. However, the report's findings suggest people in those areas are less likely to be diagnosed and receive treatment for mental illness.

7. Education had a mixed effect on people's overall health. Those with a college degree had improved scores in diabetes but worsened scores in hyperactivity.

Click here to view the full report.

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