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Social Determinants of Health

Alabama's #5 Health Indicator

Social determinants of health (SDOH) topics are a collection of factors identified as the fifth highest health indicator for Alabama. While SDOH are upstream objectives influencing all health indicators in this SHA, the community partners wanted to highlight and discuss specific methods to create opportunities for Alabama residents.

According to Healthy People 2030, the five SDOH topics are economic stability, education access and quality, healthcare access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social/community context (Healthy People 2030).

SDOH differs from access to care for they are a more permanent, societal structure that prevents adequate health factors. They can affect a wide range of physical health, mobility, and quality of life outcomes.

Disproportionately Affected Populations

SDOH plays a significant role in Alabama's citizens' health, well-being, and quality of life and contributes to health disparities and inequities. Income disparities, education, poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, housing, and family social support services need to be addressed as a system to build environments that contribute to wellness and support opportunities for healthy choices (Healthy People 2030).

Geographic Variation

While there are some lifestyle and behavioral choices, each individual is located within a specific community with local policies and government that impact how they can access health opportunities. For example, Alabama is primarily a rural state, which can create physical barriers to care, and social stigmas can prevent individual’s knowing or feeling comfortable accessing a service.

Alabama Social Determinants of Health Highlights

Data is from collaborating state agencies such as the ALDOL and ALSDE. Data are also retrieved from U.S. Census Bureau, University of Alabama, and CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): 

  • According to USHUD, as of January 2019, it was estimated 3,261 persons experienced homelessness on any given day in AL.
  • In 2019, 16.3 percent of Alabama households were unable to provide adequate food for one or more household members due to lack of resources compared to the 12.3 percent in U.S. households (Alabama Food Bank Association).

Health Indicators

The following indicators have been selected for use in developing a benchmark or starting point for measuring the current state of social determinants of health in Alabama:


Page last updated: April 26, 2022