Social determinants of health (SDOH) such as a patient’s home community and economic status are well recognized in many medical specialties, but the surgical field has been slower to embrace social concerns. Now, an organization of surgical educators and medical students is trying to change that paradigm, Socially Responsible Surgery (SRS). Through research, education, and advocacy, the group aims to establish social responsibility as a core value of surgical practice and raise attention to SDOH in surgical training and care.
“Factors like nutrition, access to care, and insurance status play major roles in how a patient will recover from surgery,” said Dr. Diane Haddad, a general surgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and MPH candidate. “Social determinants of health are intrinsic to effectively caring for surgery patients.”
“We don’t always think about these things in surgical training,” Dr. Haddad said. “But we know that your health coverage and social support dictate your outcomes in trauma and cancer care, which are fundamentally treated by surgeons.
Dr. Haddad is focusing her research on public health and health policy, including barriers, access points, and payment systems that affect access to surgical care in underserved populations.
As a philosophy, SRS seeks to involve surgeons in developing interventions and policies that address inequalities, and to be leaders in establishing team-based strategies to engage with patient communities.
“Surgeons must learn how to engage in political and social platforms. We need to encourage the allocation of resources towards addressing surgical inequalities and participate in developing health care policies that address the social determinants of health,” Dr. Haddad said.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 13