COVID-19 Makes Clear the Need to Address Social Determinants of Health

Illustration of people wearing masks.

New article from Julia Wolfson and Cindy Leung


In a recent editorial for the July-August 2020 issue of Annals of Family Medicine, University of Michigan School of Public Health experts Julia Wolfson and Cindy Leung argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has made glaringly apparent the structural conditions that underlie inequities in our nation’s health.

Race and ethnicity, housing, income, occupation and chronic health conditions are all key factors that influence one’s ability to safely weather highly infectious disease pandemics like COVID-19. Unlike the novel coronavirus strain, these social, economic and structural factors are not new. The authors argue, “An opportunity exists to use the unfolding crisis to advocate for structural changes to a system that has long perpetuated disparities.” Wolfson and Leung draw together four articles in the July-August 2020 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine that emphasize social determinants of health and highlight the calls to action for primary care.

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