Social Determinants of Health

The PHIT Community Health Data Tool is designed to describe how places, institutions and policies impact health outcomes. The reports and maps provide the research background and community-specific data for the determinants of health as well as health outcomes. While the tool provides a strong basic understanding for how health is impacted by social determinants, they should not take the place of community knowledge about how health and health equity is shaped at the local level.

Table of Contents

What topics are included in each of the PHIT Community Reports?

The Community Health Data Tool covers many different topics and is focused on the six Social Determinants of Health as named by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Built Environment

  • Building Design:  Building materials, ventilation, lighting, spaces for physical activity, accessible spaces for elderly and disabled populations, and spaces for social interaction
  • Community Design:  Green and open space, access to food, transportation services and infrastructure, health care access, amenities, institutions, and community connectedness
  • Environmental Exposures:   Water quality, air quality, noise pollution, contaminated sites


  • Educational Experience:  A person’s access to education, the quality of education, the school environment, the availability of resources within a school, and educational attainment
  • Educational Outcomes:  The impact education has on a person’s future economic security, social and psychological wellbeing, and health behaviors and knowledge


  • Employment Status:  Whether a person is employed or not
  • Workplace Risk Factors:  The working conditions of employment
  • Work Organization:  A job’s structure or design or an employer’s organizational or management practices
  • Work-Related Resources:  Earnings and additional benefits provided through employment


  • Affordability and Stability:  Whether a person can afford and sustain payments for housing
  • Quality:  The physical structure and living conditions of housing
  • Homelessness:  The condition of not having stable housing

Social Environment

  • Societal Factors:  Policies and programs
  • Community Factors:  Social capital, social and cultural norms, social isolation, and social exclusion
  • Interpersonal Factors:  Interpersonal relationships
  • Individual Factors:  People’s existing attitudes, beliefs, and existing knowledge as related to health


  • Self-Directed Violence:  Suicidal behavior and self-harm
  • Interpersonal Violence:  Violence that occurs between individuals like intimate partner violence, elder abuse, youth violence, child abuse and neglect, and community violence
  • Collective Violence:   Violence resulting from social, political, and economic factors

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