What’s Driving Our Health

Improving the health of our nation starts with broadening our view of what health means. That’s why we’re advancing a national conversation around whole health and the factors that drive it.

Taking a holistic view of health that includes physical, behavioral, and social drivers can have the greatest impact on our health. However, we have historically viewed health mostly as a product of the medical care we receive.

In reality, where we live, our financial circumstances, our access to affordable and nutritious foods, and other nonmedical factors overwhelmingly influence our health. These factors are called social drivers of health (SDH), and they determine up to 80% of our health outcomes.* We aim to deepen the nation’s collective understanding of these social drivers, and all the factors that comprise whole health, to improve the health of people across the nation.

* RWJF: Medicaid's Role in Adressing Social Determinants of Health, 2019. 

Driving Our Health: A Study Exploring Health Perceptions in America

Broadening our view of health starts with understanding what people currently believe. How do we think we are being affected by factors like food, housing, and transportation? How do we think others are affected? Do we even believe that social factors play a role in our health?

To help answer these questions, we conducted a nationally representative survey of 5,000 adults to provide a benchmark for how people in the U.S. think about whole health at this moment in time.

Key Findings

We Can Do More to Connect the Dots on Whole Health and Its Drivers

While many people in the U.S. are aware that drivers like financial stability, mental health, and access to nutritious food can significantly impact our health, we need to expand our understanding to include all the drivers that shape health.

Infographic showing the importance of education about social drivers of health
Infographic showing we underestimate the impact of air pollution
Infographic showing stats about physical health in America
Infographic showing that people are more likely to get help with physical illness than mental illness

Our Experiences and Circumstances Shape Our Perceptions of Whole Health

Backgrounds and circumstances can greatly influence our ability to meet our basic needs and access services. Inequities among demographic groups shape an individual’s view of whole health and the ability to advance equity.

Infographic showing stats on unmet social, economic, and health needs
Infographic showing americans of color are disproportionately affected by social drivers of health

We Believe Everyone Is Responsible for Improving Whole Health

In the U.S., consumers believe that action is needed to address the social drivers of health, but no one entity should be held solely responsible. To meaningfully improve health, we need to reimagine the health  system to support this broader view and continue to strengthen the communities that place a foundational and vital role in individual health.

Infographic with text about social drivers of health
Infographic showing percentage of who survey respondents say should be responsible for SDH
Infographic

How Your World Shapes Your Health

Whether we realize it or not, our experiences and health are shaped by social drivers every day. Explore the infographic to learn about some of the unexpected ways SDH impact our lives and specifically our health.

Download Document

Download the Full Study Findings

The Driving Our Health study was conducted from a sample of 5,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18. The sample is nationally representative according to the U.S. Census on overall age, gender, region, urban/rural, and race/ethnicity. Participant data was collected via a 25-minute online survey.

Heart and hand

How Elevance Health Is Making an Impact

Elevance Health is going beyond advancing a national conversation around the social drivers of health. Download the PDF to learn how Elevance Health is working to address SDH and health inequities in communities across the U.S.

Advancing Health Equity

The different ways we experience the social drivers of health help determine whether we will experience inequities in care and outcomes.

Key Terms & Definitions

Social Drivers of Health

Conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life risks and outcomes

Whole Health

A holistic view of health that considers the physical, behavioral, and social drivers.

What’s Driving Our Health

An initiative to improve our understanding of whole health, built around Elevance Health’s landmark report Driving Our Health: A study exploring health perceptions in America.