Improving Public Health by Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

Guest: Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH
July 17, 1 p.m. ET

Dr. Sandro Galea believes public health must do more than improve healthcare. For the public to be truly healthy, public health professionals must fix the social problems that cause poor health, problems like poverty, violence, and mass incarceration. Dr. Galea is dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He has published more than 700 scientific journal articles and 13 books, including his latest, Healthier: Fifty Thoughts on the Foundations of Population Health. Dr. Galea writes a column for the American Journal of Public Health and is a regular contributor to Fortune. Thomson Reuters has named him one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.”

Drs. Pagoto and Galea discussed the following questions.

  1. What are some key social determinants of health that public health scientists do not address adequately when designing interventions?
  2. What training is needed to prepare the next generation of public health professionals and practitioners for addressing the social determinants of health? What are current training programs missing?
  3. Some progress has been made in community-engaged research (i.e., CBPR), but one venue we rarely hear community voices is professional conferences. How do we bring the voices of community members, patients, advocates, and local stakeholders into scientific conferences in meaningful ways that are mutually beneficial (avoiding the approach of “token” community person)?
  4. How can we engage other stakeholders and sectors to invest in interventions that address social determinants of health? What role can academics play in facilitating those relationships?
  5. Traditional incentive structures in academia do not seem to incentivize academics to do public/community engagement. Should they be incentivized and how? Are there existing incentives that we might be overlooking?

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