University of Washington School of Public Health

Strategic Faculty Hires

Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions under which people live which determine their health. These complex multi-dimensional social determinants of health are leading contributors to health inequities worldwide and to the differences in health status within and between countries. At the UW, we believe that social epidemiology, population health research and a wide array of interdisciplinary scholarship reaching across campus and beyond are critical to understanding the complexities of the social determinants of health.

Research, education and academic public health practice about the social determinants of health are occurring in all the departments of our School of Public Health (Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Global Health, Health Services), as well as in diverse centers and institutes across the University of Washington. Many faculty have joint appointments across Schools (e.g. in Sociology, Geography, Anthropology or Statistics within Arts and Sciences, or in Social Work). Faculty are actively engaged in a broad range of research and policy. Not only are they well known for their work addressing the methodological challenges to building a foundation of sound evidence, but also for their engagement both globally and locally in promoting social, economic and health equity. The faculty prides itself on translating research into practice by bringing together faculty, students and the communities in both collaborative interdisciplinary research and in social justice advocacy and activism.

The University is well positioned to strengthen research and teaching about the Social Determinants of Health in part because it has several key centers and institutes. Advancing research, teaching, and academic public health practice in the social determinants of health use strong methodological skills and knowledge from a broad range of disciplines, for example, from social epidemiology to sociology, or from biostatistics to political economics. Methodological, applied and collaborative research and teaching are hallmarks of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, and the Northwest Census Research Data Center. Community collaboration and intervention research are essential parts of the Center for Disability Policy and Research and the Health Promotion Research Center. We are fortunate to be situated in a highly engaged community (see for example the Population Health Forum) that views itself as having a role on the global stage in promoting social, economic and health equity. One example is our King County Equity and Social Justice Initiative. Community engagement and health systems research are also hallmarks of Health Alliance International and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

This area will benefit from broad collaborations across the University and beyond; advancing knowledge through research; and applying knowledge to practice through engagement in Seattle, the region, nationally, and globally.

Related Resources:

Collaborating External Institutions: