Social Determinants of Health
“There is strong and growing evidence that higher social and economic status is associated with better health. In fact, these two factors seem to be the most important determinants of health.”
Public Health Agency of Canada, Social Determinants of Health (2004)
Social Determinants of Health is an important areas of focus for Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice. In 2014/15 we developed The Poverty Intervention Tool which was then updated in 2016 by the Centre for Effective Practice.
The Poverty Intervention Tool guides doctors with a list of questions to help address the impact of poverty on their patients’ health and puts the resources they need to connect patients with the appropriate community supports and services at their fingertips.
Poverty is a critical social determinant of health that affects 15% of BC residents* (source: Statistics Canada). We believe strongly that using practical tools such as these will help doctors across BC have a positive impact on the lives of patients living in poverty.
The multi-discipline editorial team was supported by Nelson's Advocacy Centre; the Centre for Collaboration, Motivation and Innovation; and input from about 100 supporters. Both the Kootenay and BC versions are available on our website's dedicated page. Media and supporters have been sharing the documents and spreading the word via social media.
Adverse Childhood Experiences Tool for Practitioners
In early 2019, KB Division launched the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) tool for practitioners. We know that traumatic childhood events such as abuse and neglect, witnessing crime, parental conflict, mental illness, and substance abuse have negative long-term associations with learning, health risk behaviour, and health status well into adulthood.
These types of events are common, with nearly two-thirds of adults reporting at least one ACE. ACEs create dangerous levels of toxic stress that can damage a child’s developing brain, and increase risk for smoking, alcoholism, depression, heart disease, chronic pain, and dozens of other illnesses and unhealthy behaviours throughout life. The ACE Questionnaire should not be thought of as a diagnostic tool, as some people with high ACE scores are nevertheless resilient, while some people with low ACE scores struggle with complex health challenges in adulthood. Rather, the screening opens the door for understanding and improving patient-practitioner relationships.