For public health professionals and advocates who want to communicate more effectively with the housing, education, health systems, and business sectors about the value of collaboration
Explain the social determinants of health using the Foundation of Community Health metaphor.
The Goal & The Challenge
When the goal is… to talk to other sectors about the “social determinants of health” that exist within their respective spheres of responsibility and influence…
The challenge is… they aren’t likely to recognize this phrase, or more important, to understand the concept behind it. Professionals in other sectors are mostly unaccustomed to thinking about the social determinants of health. Like most Americans, they assume health outcomes are shaped primarily by individuals’ lifestyle choices.
When You Say… everyone should be aware of how the social determinants of health shape population outcomes. We can all play a part in promoting initiatives that support the health of all members of the community.
They Think… Public health professionals can think about health, but that’s not what we do. Besides, to be healthier as a society, we all really just need to take better care of ourselves.
Framing can help
Framing can help other sectors understand health in more proactive, holistic, and structural terms. The Foundation metaphor conveys that the many different issues tied to a community’s health are also connected to one another, which urges professionals in all sectors to see that they must work together to achieve shared success.
An effective reframe would look something like this:
The health of our community is like a building—it depends on a strong and stable foundation. Every sector contributes to laying that foundation, and we all depend on its durability to prop us up. Factors like steady employment, quality education, and safe housing form the base of a functioning society by supporting vibrant communities, strong economies, and long-lasting good health for everyone.
Remember, the reframe isn’t a ready-made talking point. It’s a sample iteration that models the framing recommendation in action.