Skip to Content

Arnold School of Public Health

New project unites statewide efforts to address social determinants of health

November 16, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

The Center for Applied Research & Evaluation (CARE) has been awarded nearly $600k from The Duke Endowment to lead the development of a collective strategy for addressing social determinants of health (e.g., education, income, food access, housing, racism, language/literacy, physical activity opportunities, neighborhood/environment) in South Carolina. Led by CARE director and principal investigator Pamela Gillam, this project will convene local leaders of stakeholder groups (e.g., community-based organizations, governmental agencies, healthcare systems and their safety net partners, payors) across the state.   

South Carolina needs a common, coordinated and collective strategy to effectively address the social determinants of health across the state.

-Pamela Gillam, Center for Applied Research & Evaluation director

“There are a significant number of local- and state-level efforts across South Carolina to address social determinants of health and additional initiatives that focus on health and social outcomes,” Gillam says. “Although there is much going on across the state in regard to addressing social and structural determinants of health, they are limited in scope and targeted to address needs within a specific community or population. Until now, there has also been limited coordination and alignment across programs, sectors and geographic regions.”

The CARE team observed these limitations first-hand when they conducted an assessment of the landscape in South Carolina for this type of work. Funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation and The Duke Endowment, the team interviewed members of local- and state-level organizations and identified key facilitators and barriers.

They also convened a diverse group of public health, social, healthcare and governmental leaders (i.e., a Design Committee representing 20 organizations) to establish a coordinated and collective strategy for addressing social determinants of health.

Despite disruptions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this newly formed group worked with Health Begins (i.e., a consulting firm specializing in moving health upstream to achieve equity) to create a roadmap. A Path Forward offers solutions to key challenges, shared goals for local- and state-level efforts, and priority social conditions and populations.

With their latest funding, CARE will build on these efforts to implement the roadmap. They will spend the next two years launching the Roadmap to Address Social Determinant of Health – establishing a governance structure (including three cores: administrative, data, programmatic) and a learning collaborative to address food insecurity.

Our role is to facilitate the creation of a lasting, sustainable strategy that can then be led by the various groups who are dedicated to this work.

-Pamela Gillam, Center for Applied Research & Evaluation director 

This infrastructure will include a robust technology solution for data integration and performance measurement/feedback, efforts to advance advocacy and policy changes, and finance models to integrate social determinants of health into current healthcare payment models.   

“South Carolina needs a common, coordinated and collective strategy to effectively address the social determinants of health across the state,” Gillam says. “Our role is to facilitate the creation of a lasting, sustainable strategy that can then be led by the various groups who are dedicated to this work.”


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

©