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Office of Health Equity

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Social Determinants of Health


Visualizations and Dashboards

Veterans Geography of Opportunity Tool

How healthy are communities where Veterans live?

Use this tool to explore different factors that influence health in communities where Veterans live, work, and play. The Veterans Geography of Opportunity Tool uses Veteran population model projections at the county level from the US Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Analysis and Statistics and data from County Health Rankings & Roadmap, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The goals of that collaboration, which are shared by the VHA Office of Health Equity, are to:

  • Build awareness of factors that influence health
  • Provide reliable data to identify opportunities to impove health
  • Engage and activite communities and stakeholders in creating change
  • Connect and empower communities to improve health

National Veteran Health Equity Report - FY13

National Veteran Health Equity Report FY 13 CoverThe National Veteran Health Equity Report details patterns and provides comparative rates of health conditions for vulnerable Veteran groups. Specifically, this report is designed to provide basic comparative information on the sociodemographics, utilization patterns and rates of diagnosed health conditions among the groups over which the VHA Office of Health Equity (OHE) has responsibility with respect to monitoring, evaluating and acting on identified disparities in access, use, care, quality and outcomes. The report allows the VA, Veterans, and stakeholders to monitor the care vulnerable Veterans receive and set goals for improving their care.

PDF, ePUB, Visualization Tool


Information Briefs

Identifying and Addressing Health-Related Social Needs
Amongst Veterans

In this information brief, researchers compare racial and ethnic health disparities in the Veteran and non-Veteran populations. The brief then highlights a VHA local initiative to screen Veterans for unmet health-related social needs, and refer them to community resources.
Health Literacty BriefHealth Literacy to Achieve Health Equity in Minority Veterans
One important social determinant of health for Veterans is health literacy: the ability to gather and understand health information in order to make informed decisions about one's personal health. This information brief identifies health disparities resulting from low health literacy among VHA patients. Local and national efforts to improve health literacy, such as provider communication training and plain language standards are highlighted.
Diet Quality Food Needs BannerAddressing Diet Quality and Food Needs of Veterans
Food insecurity is frequently experienced by members of the Veteran community. Veterans are less likely to follow Dietary Guidelines than non-Veterans. After providing data on dietary challenges in the Veteran population, this information brief includes local initiatives to improve the diet quality of Veterans, including food pantries established at VA Medical Centers throughout the nation.

Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminars

Social Determinants of Health Electronic Health Record CyberseminarIncorporating Social Determinants of Health into VHA Patient Care and Electronic Medical Records - March 30, 2017
This Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar session will 1) describe social determinants of health and how these determinants influence VHA patient care; 2) present an example from the Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team program and their use of social determinants of health to improve patient care for homeless Veterans and their families; and 3) discuss VA data sources and industry best practices to understand and incorporate social determinants of health into the electronic medical record and research activities.
Social Determinants of Health and Screening CyberseminarSocial Risks for Adverse Health Outcomes among Veterans - July 10, 2019
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has been successful in reducing disparities in health and patient outcomes. However, disparities that are often the result of social and behavioral determinants of health, including financial and nonfinancial barriers to care, remain and often result in adverse health outcomes. This cyberseminar will highlight: 1) Findings from a recent evaluation that examined racial/ethnic mortality disparities among a national cohort of VA healthcare users; 2) Findings from a nationally representative survey of nearly 5,000 Veterans that examined associations of future hospitalizations and social determinants of health; and, 3) an innovative program that addresses Veterans’ social determinants of health at the point of clinical care.

Health Disparities Evidence-based Synthesis Reviews

VA Health Services Research & Development Publication Briefs

The VA Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) pursues research that underscores all aspects of VA healthcare: patient care, care delivery, health outcomes, cost, and quality.
  • Social Determinants of Health for Veterans
    Social determinants of health usually refer to factors that are socially constructed and/or impact health through socio-cultural mechanisms (e.g., socioeconomic status, education, and social support networks). Social determinants can substantially influence health outcomes and contribute to health disparities. Understanding the role of social determinants in the health of Veterans -- and identifying clinical and research opportunities to impact the pathways between social determinants and health -- are critical for VA's mission to serve and improve health outcomes for all Veterans.

PubMed Search Results

Pubmed SearchPeer-reviewed literature on Veterans and social determinants of health.
 Health Outcomes

External Resources

National Resource Directory National Resource Directory
The National Resource Directory is a searchable database of resources vetted for Service members, Veterans, family members and caregivers. Resource categories include education and training, employment, housing, transportation and travel, and more. A list of resources available for Veterans in the New England region (VISN 1) can be found here.
Neighborhood Navigator
Neighborhood Navigator 
The Neighborhood Navigator EveryONE Project is an interactive, online tool which connects patients to resources and programs in their neighborhoods to improve social determinants of health. Users enter their zip code and are provided with a list of social services in their area, including food, transportation, housing, legal aid, employment aid, and financial assistance.  The Neighborhood Navigator tool is sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians.


VA National Partners

The Office of Health Equity is committed to working closely with our VA colleagues to ensure that Veterans receive appropriate individualized health care in a way that eliminates disparate health outcomes and assures health equity. OHE's VA Partners include:

External Partners

The Office of Health Equity is committed to working closely with other government agencies and non-governmental organizations to ensure that Veterans receive appropriate individualized health care in a way that eliminates disparate health outcomes and assures health equity. OHE's External Partners include:

 Workforce Training

Cultural Competence Training

The following resources created by other government offices and agencies provide information on the importance of cultural competence in a healthcare system:

VHA Providers Explore Unconscious Bias

VHA providers share their stories of creating awareness of unconscious bias within their clinical practice and how bias impacts us all. A bias is a tendency. Most biases are natural. However, biases can cause problems when we are not aware of them and we apply them inappropriately to our everyday choices, which can lead to discriminatory practices and result in poorer health outcomes and experiences for patients. The brief videos were created by the VA Office of Health Equity and Employee Education System in an effort to ensure all Veterans receive high quality and equitable healthcare. The videos were recorded April 2013.

ACORN Unconscious Bias Training Guide

The ACORN Unconcious Bias Training Guide details and defines common types of unconscious bias. It then provides strategies for reducing unconscious bias and additional resources to learn more.

Harvard Implicit Associations Test

The Implicit Association Test measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. This tool may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about.