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Social Determinants of Health Case Studies

Enhancing Prevention and Population Health Education



The Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) announced an opportunity to develop problem-based case studies aimed at deepening health professions students’ understanding of the significance of social determinants of health (SDOH) and how to incorporate information and insights about SDOH into their work.

There has been increasing recognition in recent years of the importance of SDOH and prevention-focused strategies when seeking to address community health issues and achieve health equity. Achieving health equity—defined by Healthy People 2020 as the highest level of health for all people —will require addressing these social and environmental determinants through both broad population-based approaches and targeted approaches focused on those communities experiencing the greatest disparities. This effort will require clinical prevention interventions, as well as orienting practicing health professionals to the principles of population health, including those factors in the community that facilitate or impede the improvement of health.



Targeting the Social Determinants of Health in Geriatic Populations
Nadia Cobb, MS, PhD Candidate
Director, Office for the Promotion of Global Healthcare Equity/ Division of Physician Assistant Studies
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah

Addressing the Effects of Psychological Trauma in a Community Using a Social Determinants of Health Approach: A Case Study
Susan Salmond, EdD, RN
Executive Vice Dean and Professor
School of Nursing
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Newark, New Jersey

Case Study Development for Poverty Simulation Pedagogy: Understanding the Conditions of Poverty as Determinants of Health and their Impact on Access to Health Promotion and Health Care
Rita Sfiligoj, DNP, MPA, RN
School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio

Seeking Health Equity by Examining Racism as a Social Determinant of Health
Christina Yongue, MPH
Assistant Professor
Public Health Education
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina


Type of Award    Contract/Subaward 
Total Direct & Indirect Costs   $6,000 maximum potential award
Allowable Indirect Rate  8% maximum
Number of Awards  4
Application Deadline  October 25, 2016
Award Date  November 30, 2016 
Completion Date  June 30, 2017 



APTR is providing small grants to faculty to support the development of educational case studies focusing on SDOH. The educational case studies should teach health professions students to: identify social factors that impact the health of their patients and communities; include community-based and other social services and programs in the care of their patients; and understand how the choices and civic/community engagement of health professionals can impact the health of patients and of populations. Case studies will reference such resources as Healthy People 2020, the Clinical Prevention and Population Health Curriculum Framework, and the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals. These case studies will help health professions students understand SDOH and the need for interprofessional and cross-sectoral approaches to improve the health of the public. This case study development project focuses on the Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health Topic Area, and a new perspective calling for an expansion of public health practice to emphasize cross-sectoral, environmental, policy, and systems-level actions that directly affect the social determinants of health and advance health equity.   

Each case study will include a quiz or other form of student assessment, and a facilitator guide for instructors. The case studies will be adapted by APTR for online completion by students across the health professions, and will be promoted by the 11 health professions education associations that comprise the APTR Healthy People Curriculum Task Force. Dissemination efforts may include webinars and presentations at national conferences.

The case studies will: 

  • Engage students in a problem-solving interprofessional and/or cross-sectoral case-study exercise related to the Healthy People 2020 SDOH Topic Area
  • Be organized around at least one of the five key determinants of health:
    • 1) Economic Stability
    • 2) Education
    • 3) Social and Community Context
    • 4) Health and Health Care
    • 5) Neighborhood and Built Environment 
  • Address:
    • At least one relevant domain of the “Clinical Prevention and Population Health Curriculum Framework” (CPPH Framework)   
    • At least two of the Tier 1 “Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals,”  selected for use in this project (Appendix A)
  • Include patient/client/population perspective(s) as relevant
  • Contain learner self-assessment/quiz questions to be adapted for online completion, along with a facilitator guide with descriptive answer key
  • Incorporate appropriate Federal resources related to SDOH into the recommended resources section of the case study facilitator guide  

The finished case studies will include:

  • A detailed narrative
  • Graphics such as photos, graphs, or charts (with copyright rights), as applicable
  • Video (with copyright rights), optional
  • A detailed learner assessment instrument with scoring rubric (this will be adapted by APTR into an electronic form to demonstrate learner objectives are met)
  • A facilitator guide with explanation of relevant issues, topics for further discussion, and recommended resources and readings.

 View/Download Request for Proposals >>


This project is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #5 ATPHP120007-04-00 between the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), and is subject to federal grant regulations [CFDA #93.990].



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