Social determinants of health in mental health care and research: a case for greater inclusion
Delivery of Health Care
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are known to influence mental health outcomes, which are independent risk factors for poor health status and physical illness. Currently, however, existing SDOH data collection methods are ad hoc and inadequate, and SDOH data are not systematically included in clinical research or used to inform patient care. Social contextual data are rarely captured prospectively in a structured and comprehensive manner, leaving large knowledge gaps. Extraction methods are now being developed to facilitate the collection, standardization, and integration of SDOH data into electronic health records. If successful, these efforts may have implications for health equity, such as reducing disparities in access and outcomes. Broader use of surveys, natural language processing, and machine learning methods to harness SDOH may help researchers and clinical teams reduce barriers to mental health care.