Researchers advocated for the integration of social determinants of health in the care of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in a study published in Pulmonary Circulation.

The US Department of Health and Human Services defines social determinants of health as “the conditions in the environment where people are born, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality of life outcomes and risk.” In other words, they refer to nonmedical factors that impact one’s access to healthcare or a healthy lifestyle, including housing, neighborhood, education, employment, and social support. 

In 2017, the American Thoracic Society advocated for a deeper understanding of how social and environmental conditions impact outcomes in patients with PAH. 


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The authors of the study sought to further explore the relationship between social determinants of health and clinical outcomes in patients with PAH. They conducted 30-minute interviews with clinicians in the United States (n=17) who actively treat PAH patients. The authors of the study created deidentified transcripts following the interviews. They then summarized the feedback of clinicians on how social determinants of health impact health policy. 

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“Our study findings provide PAH clinicians’ views that support emerging evidence indicating that PAH patients with negative [social determinants of health] correlated with poor health outcomes,” the authors of the study wrote. 

The study found that various factors influenced health outcomes among patients with PAH, including employment status, disability status, housing insecurity, food insecurity, transportation insecurity, education and health literacy, language and cultural competency, racial and ethnic disparities, mental health, and substance use disorders. The findings highlight the need to address social disparities among patients to improve access to healthcare and boost outcomes. 

PAH is a progressive disease that increases pulmonary vascular resistance, resulting in right heart failure and premature death.

Reference

Nadipelli VR, Elwing JM, Oglesby WH, El-Kersh K. Social determinants of health in pulmonary arterial hypertension patients in the United States: clinician perspective and health policy implicationsPulm Circ. 2022;12(3):e12111. doi:10.1002/pul2.12111