At 4sight Health, we have never liked the phrase “social determinants of health.” Its meaning is not self-evident, so the terminology requires explanation. That’s never a good thing.
In addition, the term “social determinants” is antiseptic. The words mechanically capture the immense importance of education, housing, food, security, transportation and other day-to-day living factors in promoting well-being and unleashing human potential. However, the phrase fails to stir the blood. Enhancing social determinants can catapult disadvantaged individuals and communities into almost unimaginable happiness and achievement. The terminology should capture that excitement.
Finally, “social” as a modifier of “determinants” is far too limiting. The adjacent chart from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute displays the numerous and complex interconnections that foster long, healthy lives. Language describing the pathways to healthy living must be more expansive and invigorating.
As with most great writing, the solution to capturing the many-splendored character of the social determinants of health is to simplify language and economize on word choice. With that as our goal, we offer the phrase “Healthy Multipliers” as an alternative. Our new terminology is clean, active and progressive. “Healthy Multipliers” captures the essence of what’s required for healthy living.
We shared the new language on aligning mind, body and soul in pursuit of health, well-being and contentment with Dr. Allen Weiss, 4sight Health’s community health expert. After a long career as a physician and administrator, Allen now dispenses his wisdom as the Chief Medical Officer for Sharecare’s Blue Zone Project.
For the uninitiated, Blue Zones unlocks the secrets of community well-being and healthy aging. Blue Zones now collaborates with 4,823 organizations to promote healthy living in 57 communities that are home to almost four million people.
There’s no better source for advice on strategies for living long, well and harmoniously than Allen’s commentaries. We’re all richer for them.
To say that Allen approved of the new language would be a monumental understatement. He liked it so much that he’s dedicated his latest commentary, “Healthy Multipliers for Our Society,” to expounding on healthy multipliers’ profound potential for overcoming the crippling disease burden that negative social determinants of health impose on American communities.
Read all dispatches from Dave Johnson here.