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New Anthem Public Policy Institute Report Outlines Key Differences in How Individuals and the Public Perceive Social Determinants of Health

Press Release May 29, 2019
New White Paper Examines Online Patient Forums, Academic Research and News Reports to Better Identify and Address Gaps

WASHINGTON --(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 29, 2019-- Individuals who are living with chronic or acute conditions perceive and discuss social determinants of health differently than researchers and the media, creating missed opportunities for payers and providers to address gaps and engage more effectively with members and patients, according to a new white paper from Anthem’s Public Policy Institute .

Social determinants of health are socioeconomic factors that include housing, transportation, access to food, and social support as well as access to healthcare. These factors have gained widespread recognition for their role in healthcare and health outcomes, and a growing number of care providers, as well as public and private payers, have incorporated social determinants assessments and interventions.

Anthem’s Public Policy Institute partnered with Quid, a research platform designed to analyze text-based data, to examine academic papers, news articles and individuals’ posts on patient forums focused on cancer, diabetes and mental health conditions. The analysis found that consumers identify influences that impact them daily – like whether they have support from family, or can find the right doctor for their condition. Researchers and journalists, meanwhile, focus on structural factors like education and income level. While these findings do not seem surprising, this is the first analysis to examine social determinants in this way.

“While there has been a lot in the media and academic research on social determinants of health, no one has ever compared the focus of that work with the perspectives of individuals who have chronic or acute conditions to determine whether their priorities are aligned,” said Jennifer Kowalski , vice president of the Anthem Public Policy Institute . “By better understanding how individuals view and talk about social determinants, payers and providers alike can identify new and improved ways to engage with them to more effectively improve their health and wellbeing and the delivery of healthcare.”

The analysis also showed that individuals were concerned with factors like social supports and food that might be easier to modify, while academic and news reports focused on factors like education and economic stability that take more time and resources to address. Beyond discussions about navigating the healthcare system, social support was raised most frequently on patient forums for cancer and mental health conditions, while nutrition and access to food were the most common posts on forums for patients with diabetes.

The report suggests that payers, providers and other engaged stakeholders can take steps including investing in and expanding community capacity to improve access to food, transportation, and social capital, among other resources; and supporting policy and funding mechanisms that expand available solutions and enhance the impact of resources aimed at reducing barriers. Copies of the Anthem Public Policy Institute’s white papers are available at:, and are also discussed at:

About the Anthem Public Policy Institute

The Anthem Public Policy Institute was established to share data and insights to inform public policy and shape the health care programs of the future. The Public Policy Institute strives to be an objective and credible contributor to health care innovation and transformation through publication of policy-relevant data analysis, timely research and insights from Anthem’s innovative programs.

About Anthem, Inc.

Anthem is a leading health benefits company dedicated to improving lives and communities, and making healthcare simpler. Through its affiliated companies, Anthem serves more than 78 million people, including over 40 million within its family of health plans. We aim to be the most innovative, valuable and inclusive partner. For more information, please visit or follow @AnthemInc on Twitter.

About Quid

Quid is a research platform that inspires full-picture thinking by drawing connections across massive amounts of written content. Our powerful set of core technologies mimics the way the human brain reads and organizes information but does so at a scale and speed beyond the capabilities of any single researcher or team. Quid leverages proprietary machine intelligence to broaden and deepen your analysis. The platform identifies patterns in millions of text-based documents to link otherwise disparate elements into broader storylines that can signal forthcoming trends, opportunities, or potential trouble ahead.

Source: Anthem

Joyzelle Davis
(303) 831-2005