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Social Determinants of Health: Poverty

Gary Bloch, MD and Vanessa Cardy, MD
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Evidence links living in poverty to disease like heart disease and many types of cancer. Primary Care physicians are uniquely positioned to help their patients living in poverty, both by addressing their individual situations and by advocating for and creating change at the broader community level. A clinic model which has proven successful in inner city Toronto is discussed.


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Rachel R. -

thank you for the very concise plan for addressing social determinants of health. I work in the US in a free mobile clinic for uninsured patients, linking patients to services is a large part of our role in the community. Recently we started asking about food insecurity on our intake form in addition to income. In addition to finding specific resources, this question acts as a surrogate marker for poverty and opens to door to asking about other social determinants. I think patients find it more meaningful than income as they can see the direct links to their health, and as a provider it's gratifying because we can address it directly by signing them up for food pantry and SNAP (if they qualify). We have been teaming up with our local food pantries to offer blood pressure and diabetes screenings at the distribution sites. The more agencies can collaborate and get to know each others work, the smoother the referrals for social services go and hopefully resources are used more efficiently with less overlap.

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Legions of Lesions Full episode audio for MD edition 172:45 min - 81 MB - M4AHippo Primary Care RAP June 2017 Summary 12 MB - PDF