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Demographics/Social Determinants of Health

Demographics are the classifiable characteristics of a given population. Demographic characteristics most commonly used in public health statistics include:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Geographic Area
  • Marital Status

Social determinants of health, according to, are "conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Healthy People identifies five key determinant areas:
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment
  • Economic Stability
  • Education
  • Social and Community Context
  • Health and Health Care

Social determinant indicators include, for example:
  • Disability Status
  • Educational Attainment Level
  • Employment Status
  • Income Level/Poverty Status
  • Natality (native- or foreign-born)
  • Veteran Status
  • Refugee Information

Why It's Important

Analysis of public health data by demographic characteristics is essential to the reduction and elimination of health disparities. The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 describes health disparities as differences in "the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival rates in the population as compared to the health status of the general population." The definition can be applied to any demographic group, not just racial/ethnic minorities. Analysis by demographic characteristics also shows at what age certain diseases and conditions typically appear.

Health equity is the principle to pursue the highest possible standard of health for all while focusing on those with the greatest obstacles. Social determinants have a large impact on disparities and health equity. In order to improve health outcomes for those with disparities, social determinants often need to be targeted for intervention and prevention efforts. Analysis of what social determinants affect which populations in what areas helps inform programs where to focus efforts. County Health Rankings estimates that social, economic, and physical environment factors account for 50% of health factors.

Interventions with the largest impacts on health outcomes are population-based and focus on social determinants. CDC currently has an effort to target community approaches that focus on "social determinants of health" and "changing the context to make the healthy choice the easy choice." For information on the Health Impact in 5 Years project (HI-5) and the Health Impact Pyramid, visit

What Is Known

Certain demographic and social determinant groups have consistently better outcomes than others on a variety of public health issues.

How It's Tracked

Demographic and social determinant characteristics are tracked in most public health data sets including, but not limited to:

Population Estimates

Count, Birth, and Fertility Rates


Social Determinants of Health - Adults

Social Determinants of Health - Adolescents

Social Measures

Economic Measures

The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 30 May 2024 12:57:43 from Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Fri, 22 Mar 2024 08:51:31 MDT