A person’s health and well-being are impacted by more than just his/her lifestyle choices and inherited traits. Environmental factors, community settings and other social conditions can also play major roles in how healthy a person can be. We recognize these influences as Social Determinants of Health.

Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are defined as environmental conditions surrounding the areas in which people are born, live, work and learn that impact their health, well-being and overall quality of life. SDOH are generally grouped into five major categories :

• Economic Stability

• Education Access and Quality

• Health Care Access and Quality

• Neighborhood and Built Environment

• Social and Community Context

Within each of these broad categories are a number of interconnected elements that contribute to a person’s capacity to lead a healthy life. Within Social and Community Context, for example, exposure to racism or discrimination can impact employment opportunities. Lack of Education Access and Quality can result in lower language or literacy skills, which may limit employment and career advancement opportunities. Together, these factors can contribute to less Economic Stability. But how do these factors impact a person’s health?

Each of the major SDOH groups contribute to a person’s overall health and well-being, and barriers to access in these areas can have negative impacts on health risks and outcomes . Using the previous example, a person who lacks economic stability may live in a food desert or an area with high levels of pollution. This lack of quality nutrition and exposure to pollutants can then increase the risk of negative health conditions, like heart disease or cancer, and in turn decrease life expectancy. In examples like these, access to healthy food choices is not enough – the other disparities that exist create additional barriers to positive health and well-being that must be removed to promote healthy living . This is where transportation access can help.


The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) ranks transportation access as #2 in SDOH . Private transportation is expensive and not always a readily available solution for individuals. Public transportation can also be costly and may be ill-suited to a person’s mobility needs. These kinds of barriers to transportation can result in delayed or missed medical appointments, limited access to pharmaceuticals, higher rates of emergency department admissions, higher overall cost of health care and poorer health outcomes . Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) services remove barriers to accessing quality healthcare by providing safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation solutions to those in need.

When applied, NEMT benefits address transportation access as a SDOH and help patients reach their recommended appointments on time, with an efficient and reliable program. These benefits enable the regular management of chronic health conditions and help to reduce the number of emergency department and hospital admissions required by the patient, resulting in lower health care costs and more positive health outcomes for the patient . Coordinated Transportation Solutions, Inc. (CTS) has made it our mission to increase the availability of these transportation services for vulnerable individuals and communities to help more people live longer, healthier lives.

To learn more about how CTS helps manage SDOH and reduce barriers to transportation access, you can check out our Transportation for Healthcare page!


Social determinants of health. (2021). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health#:~:text=Social%20determinants%20of%20health%20(SDOH,of%2Dlife%20outcomes%20and%20risks.

Access to health services. (2021). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/access-to-health

Social determinants of health. (2021). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health#:~:text=Social%20determinants%20of%20health%20(SDOH,of%2Dlife%20outcomes%20and%20risks.

Health research & educational trust. (2017, November). Social determinants of health series: Transportation and the role of hospitals. Chicago, IL: Health Research & Educational Trust. Accessed at www.aha.org/transportation

Lyon, K. (2021). The life-changing link between Transportation & health. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.tripspark.com/blog/the-life-changing-link-between-transportation-health

Rao, N. (2019, February 25). Innovation gaps to address social DETERMINANTS + Nemt policy + $66m FOR SIPPRA + more. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/innovation-gaps-address-social-determinants-nemt-policy-naveen-rao/

Sinhasane, S. (2021, February 09). Addressing SDOH and providing HEALTH transportation services to eliminate obstacles to care delivery. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://nemtpulse.com/blog/addressing-sdoh-and-providing-health-transportation-services.html