Johns Hopkins symposium to focus on social factors of disease, disparities

Symposium on the Social Determinants of Health to be held April 23

Johns Hopkins University will host a symposium next week to examine the social factors that drive health inequalities in Baltimore and other urban communities. In the United States, social inequalities help explain why Americans still have poor outcomes on broad measures of health despite the billions of dollars spent nationally on medical care.

The second annual Symposium on the Social Determinants of Health will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on April 23 in Shriver Hall on the university's Homewood campus. The event aims to raise awareness about the impact and importance of the social determinants of health and to identify what can be undertaken to reduce health inequalities.

"While only six miles separate the Baltimore neighborhoods of Roland Park and the Northeast Market, there is a 20-year difference in average life expectancy," said symposium organizer Robert Blum, director of Urban Health Institute and chair of the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"When we think of the social determinants of health, not only are we talking about health services but access to housing, education, social supports, employment and other critical factors that together determine health outcomes. When it comes to infant mortality and life expectancy, we rank lower than most industrialized countries; and if Baltimore were a country it would rank 76th in the world for infant mortality. Without understanding and addressing those social factors that drive the health inequalities we don't stand a chance to reverse these trends and statistics."

The event is sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Office of the Provost and the Urban Health Institute. All members of the Baltimore community are invited to attend. For additional information or to register for the event, please visit

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