What are Social Determinants of Health and How Can Oncologists Address Their Impact on Patients?

New educational series supports ASCO’s ongoing work to improve equity in cancer care
February 17, 2021

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has developed a free educational series to help the oncology community learn more about the role of social determinants of health in cancer care and cancer outcomes. Social determinants of health include the circumstances in which people are born, live, and work, and include social, economic, and physical factors that have a direct impact on health and health care outcomes.

The educational series is one of several activities inspired by the 2020-2021 presidential theme of ASCO President Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, “Equity: Every day. Every patient. Everywhere,” which puts a sharp focus on the need for the oncology community to confront and address the complex factors that lead to disparities in cancer care and research.

While the series is geared toward oncology trainees and early-career oncologists, all members of the oncology community are invited to access the information to increase familiarity with social determinants of health.

Episodes include:

  • Episode 1: Beginning the Conversation – Social Determinants of Health and Cancer Care: Provides a definition of social determinants of health and discusses why it’s necessary for oncologists to understand the role social determinants of health have on cancer care. Watch the video or listen to the podcast.
  • Episode 2: Living Our Values: Discusses what ASCO is doing as a professional society to address equity as part of its mission. Watch the video or listen to the podcast.
  • Episode 3: Taking a Social History: Explains how—and why – to take a social history, with a focus on cultural humility and addressing implicit bias. Watch the video or listen to the podcast.
  • Episode 4: Understanding the Cost of Care:  Focuses on understanding the cost of care and identifies ways care providers can help patients and caregivers mitigate financial toxicity. Watch the video.

Future episodes will feature expert-led discussions on the various social, economic, and cultural factors that influence cancer outcomes and cancer risk, and how oncologists can take action to address those factors with their patients to help improve cancer care outcomes.

Explore all of the videos in ASCO’s Social Determinants of Health educational series and listen to all of the podcasts by searching Social Determinants in the ASCO's eLearning podcast library.

Learn more about ASCO’s work to increase equity in cancer care and research and bookmark ASCO in Action.