A New Way to Talk about the Social Determinants of Health

Over the course of four years, the RWJF Vulnerable Populations Portfolio undertook an iterative research and message development process that benefited from both traditional and nontraditional research techniques. This work has helped us communicate more effectively, and we believe in sharing this information with others. In A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health, the Portfolio shares a way to create more compelling, effective and persuasive messages that resonate across the political spectrum. We hope that this research and the way we have applied it is helpful to broader audiences.

On July 29, 2010, the RWJF Vulnerable Populations portfolio co-hosted a webinar with Grantmakers in Health to share this research with others in the field. More than 2,500 participated in the live event -- a foundation record! Panelists included RWJF's Ann Christiano and two of the project's researchers, Drew Westen and Elizabeth Carger. After a 75-minute presentation, the three panelists responded to dozens of questions from participants. The recorded event and presentation slides are available for downloading.

A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health, includes:

  • A Foreword by Jane Lowe: Why We Need a Better Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health
  • Peeling the Onion: How We Found a Better Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health
  • Choosing Words: Best Practices in the Language and Framing of Social Determinants of Health
  • Finding One Fact to Fight Fiction: The Use of Data and Information to Support—Not Make—Your Case
  • Thinking in Pictures: The Deep Metaphors That Drive How Politicians See Health Disparities (by Elizabeth Carger)
  • Changing Our Frame of Mind: The Role of the Mind, Brain and Emotion in Developing Messages (by Drew Westen, Ph.D.)