Our Social Determinants of Health Tour Illuminates the Root Causes of Maternal & Infant Health Disparities

by | May 23, 2022 | Blog, News

Each month, we highlight an initiative or part of our work to offer our audiences updates and additional insight into our Theory of Change. This month, we’re highlighting our Social Determinants of Health Tour, which has been a key piece of our racial equity journey by illuminating the root causes of racial disparities in maternal and infant health. Generate Health’s Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Tour is a unique experiential learning tour that provides insight into the policies and historic, social, and economic factors that have shaped disparate outcomes in the St. Louis region. The goal of the tour is to increase participants’ understanding of and sensitivity to the lives and perspectives of families from these communities in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of care and services. The SDOH tour provides patient-facing staff, leaders, students in the health care professions, and others with an
important first-hand opportunity to connect with community factors that affect patient experience and outcomes and to promote professional change that diminishes disparities. The tour is a powerful complement to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs that promote cultural competence and patient-centered care.

The impetus for the tour was the awarding of a Federal Healthy Start Grant to Generate Health in 2005 to provide early prenatal and postpartum care to pregnant women and birthing people through their child’s 2nd birthday. Generate Health wanted its staff and its subcontractor’s staff to understand the conditions that impacted a woman or birthing person’s health in the three Healthy Start zip codes. By partnering with academic institutions and offering the tour to pediatric residents and nursing students, we created opportunities for future health care professionals to understand how racialized community conditions impact maternal and infant health.

The tour continued to grow as we institutionalized it as part of our Board orientation beginning in 2013, and we licensed the tour to two hospitals from 2017 – 2020 to build health care leaders’ and providers’ awareness of the root causes of racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. Between 2017-2020, 567 participants have attended our SDOH tours.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person tours have not been possible at our previous scale, but we have continued to engage health systems leaders in conversations about social determinants of health and the importance of culturally competent care.

Past participants have shared the following about their experience:

“[The most significant learning was] how much knowing this information impacts our daily work with patients, and how important it is to keep it in mind.”

“I have never been to any of the locations that we visited today. The tour was opened with a great verbal presentation. Gave me a whole new perspective of the circumstances my patients are coming from it will definitely help me adjust my expectations during patient encounters.” 

“[The most significant learning was] context to why there are racial issues and more importantly why my patients mistrust the hospital and the healthcare system.”

We are excited to share that very soon, we will have a virtual tour option to offer! The virtual tour will cover all the social determinants of health issues, guiding participants through dialogue, videos, and resources that are impactful and transformational.

For more information about the tour, please contact Rose Anderson-Rice, Deputy Director, randersonrice@generatehealthstl.org.


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