Social Determinants of Behavioral Health

Debra Furr-Holden photo

It is well established that place matters with respect to health and health outcomes. In behavioral health studies of violence, alcohol and other drug use, and mental health, there is growing evidence that environmental risk and social determinants are strong predictors of behavior in highly disordered environments. In fact, they may be more salient predictors of high-risk behavior than individual-level risk factors. The field of health equity research studies the context where people live, work, and play – i.e., where they experience health. Health equity research examines how the environment shapes and influences opportunities for optimal/sub-optimal health and considers related structural and policy interventions to address both built and social environments. Dr. Furr-Holden provides examples of innovative environmental assessment methods that offer policy-relevant approaches to address the environment and environmental risk. In particular, highlighting policy-based research and implementation efforts in Flint, Michigan and the larger Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Region 5. Such action-oriented research builds on advancements in the field of geographic information systems and offers promising research, service, and advocacy integration in health equity and behavioral health promotion.
C. Debra Furr-Holden, PhD, is a C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, Division of Public Health; Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Director, Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions; MSU co-Director, Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.
Recorded April 19, 2017

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