Recognized influence of physical and social factors on health

In order to establish health as a shared priority, community members need to view it as a collective concern. To improve health for all, we must recognize how our health can be influenced by the conditions of our community and the behaviors of those around us.

In 2018, the National Survey of Health Attitudes found that 37% of adults in the U.S. believed that one’s surroundings (both other people’s behaviors and factors like physical environment, social support, and community safety) strongly influence health and well-being. This represents a small but statistically significant increase since 2015, when 34% reported a strong influence. There are notable differences by race/ethnicity, with more black (40%), Hispanic/Latinx (45%), and Asian (45%) adults reporting strong influence of these factors on health, relative to whites (33%). An increase in this percentage signals a greater understanding of health as an interconnected experience, linked to the people around us and the places where we live, learn, work, and play.

SOURCE: RWJF National Survey of National Health Attitudes, RWJF and RAND 2015 and 2018

  • Adults Reporting Level of Recognized Influence of Physical And Social Factors on Health

  • Recognized Influence of Physical and Social Factors on Health, By Race/Ethnicity

  • Recognized Influence of Physical and Social Factors on Health, By Education

Internet Searches for Health Promoting Information 

When health is a shared value, people search for ways to promote and improve health and well-being. This measure demonstrates the extent to which people are doing so online. Based on a set of commonly used keywords about promoting health, Google searches in 2019 were very similar to those in 2016, with very little change in focus on fitness related topics (54%) relative to other wellness related issues (11%) or the topic of being healthy (31%). 

There was similar attention between 2018 and 2019 paid to topics such as public health (3%), healthy eating (1%), and health equity (1%). An increase in the volume of Google searches on a range of health and well-being topics would indicate that people are actively seeking information on health and the factors that drive it. This would reflect the first stage of changing mindsets and an increase in general interest in health and well-being. As this measure is updated for 2020 during COVID-19, increased searching for topics related to health and well-being also could reflect more interest in maintaining good physical and emotional health due to greater social isolation and potentially less use of preventive health services. 

SOURCE: Google, 2019