Our health is shaped by many factors that are often outside our control. Environmental and social conditions like housing, education and poverty can have a profound effect on our health and well-being.

The series in The Nation's Health features an infographic on social determinants of health.

The series in The Nation’s Health features an infographic on social determinants of health.

To help us better understand how these forces affect health, The Nation’s Health, APHA’s award-winning newspaper, has begun a multimedia series on the social determinants of health. The series, which began this month with an infographic and cover story on how the public health field has shifted to include a greater focus on social determinants of health, will continue to highlight specific issues and determinants of health as it progresses.

Using infographics, Storify features, articles and other multimedia elements like podcasts, The Nation’s Health looks to build momentum in the discussion of social determinants of health, and engage readers as well.

“Awareness of the influence that social determinants have on health has steadily been growing,” said Michele Late, executive editor of The Nation’s Health. “It’s changed how public health thinks about addressing disparities. Our series is highlighting how that is taking shape at the local, state and national level, and what it means for the health of Americans.”

The series opened with a cover story on the role social determinants have played in shaping and changing the focus of the field of public health. The article brings to light the importance of social determinants, citing examples of interventions that have used them to better serve communities like that of Wayne County, Michigan, local health departments in some parts of California, and the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County. These areas have used strategies informed by research on social determinants to address infant mortality, gun violence, youth asthma and other health issues with community-specific causes.

This month’s issue also includes a sidebar that explores the effect of including social determinants in research and interventions, contributing to a new era in public health called Public Health 3.0. The article illustrates the progression of the field of public health from advances in science and medicine, to the clear definition of public health services in the 1980s and 1990s, to the latest advances, which take social determinants of health into account. Karen DeSalvo, acting assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is also featured, giving insight into the influence of social determinants from the federal perspective.

The series will continue to draw attention to important issues related to social determinants of health, including a cover story and podcast on education in August, and will explore other topics as well. Late says the response to the series has been positive so far, with the audience continuing to grow and many readers sharing the articles, infographic and Storify feature on social media. She hopes the material will continue to bring to light the importance of social determinants, and keep people engaged with the topic and their health.

The series supports APHA’s vision of creating the healthiest nation in one generation and is a resource for Generation Public Health, a national movement of people, communities and organizations working to ensure conditions where everyone has the opportunity to be healthy.

Visit The Nation’s Health Social Determinants of Health series.