SDoH and OT

by Cheryl Hall on August 27th, 2023

Social Determinates of Health (SDoH) focuses conversations about improving patient health and wellbeing outward. Where people live, who they live with, what they do for a living, and how they live can have a larger impact on their health than any medical intervention.

So where is occupational therapy in this conversation?

Hasn’t OT always focused on improving a patient’s access to and navigation of the five domains included in the SDoH?

I think the answer to that is a resounding YES! OT’s holistic approach, skilled assessment of patient strengths and barriers, and clinical expertise at creating patient-centered pathways to patient-identified goals should put occupational therapy in the center of this effort.

So what are some of the contributions OT makes to support patients in each of the five domains?

  • Domain 1: Economic Stability
    • Money management skills
    • Food prep skills
    • Addressing barriers to work
      • Pain management
      • Management of behavioral health
      • Adaptations to transportation, communication and work tasks
  • Domain 2: Education Access and Quality
    • School based OT and pediatric OT
    • Improving digital literacy
    • Goal setting and action plans
    • Outdoor access and play
  • Domain 3: Health Care Access and Quality
    • Independence with ADLs
    • Health literacy tools
    • Medication management tools and strategies
    • OT’s role across settings: primary care, oncology, emergency rooms, acute care, assisted care facilities, outpatient clinics, schools, and behavioral health settings.
  • Domain 4: Neighborhood and Built Environment
    • Home Health OT
    • Falls prevention
    • IADLs: transportation and communication skills
    • Adaptations to the environment or tasks
    • Vision interventions
  • Domain 5: Social and Community Context
    • Community mobility and transportation
    • Pet and service animal care and management
    • Caregiver support and respite
    • Support of vulnerable populations – foster care kids, homeless or persons with cognitive barriers

How are you supporting your OT patients in the 5 SDoH domains? Let me know! I’m sure there are dozens of examples that I missed!

Want to learn more? Visit U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2030

  • About Me

    Cheryl Hall
    Occupational Therapist
    Maryland, United States

    Welcome to a site devoted to sharing experience, knowledge and resources to make your job of being a great therapist a lot easier.

    I have been an occupational therapist for more than 30 years. I graduated from San Jose State University with degrees in Occupational Therapy, Gerontology, and Early Child Development. My passion is working with adults and children in home health but I have also worked in rehab, sub-acute rehab, hand therapy, transitional living for TBI, and hospital-based outpatient settings.

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