The California Primary Care Association (CPCA) is committed to supporting Community Health Centers (CHCs) to learn more about the Social Drivers of Health (SDOH) affecting their patients.


SDOH Learning Cohort

This innovative, asynchronous, online course is designed to empower health care professionals with knowledge and skills to collect and respond to SDOH data and improve population health outcomes.

Peer Networks

  • SDOH Peer Network

    This peer network supports health centers at all parts of the journey to understand SDOH, and learn from and collaborate with each other. The meeting is held bi-monthly as a space to learn about how CHCs in California are selecting tools to collect and address data and developing workflows to ensure successful SDOH data collection.
  • Outreach and Enrollment Peer Network (OEPN)

    In the realm of healthcare access, the OEPN is a collaborative platforn that provides health centers and consortia members with continuous support, facilitating the exchange of insights, tools, and resources to optimize the enrollment process and enhance service deliver for patients and elevating best practices in SDOH.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Aware

The ACEs Aware initiative is a first-in-the nation effort to screen patients for Adverse Childhood Experiences and to prevent and address the impact of ACEs and toxic stress. CPCA leverages partnerships to improve ACEs screening data to achieve better patient care, trauma-informed and resilience oriented (TIRO) practices, and informed community-wide systems of care.


What Are Social Drivers of Health?

Social Drivers of Health, or the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, play, work, and age, are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources. Factors such as socioeconomic conditions, environmental factors, institutional power, and social networks are considered “upstream” because they occur earlier in the chain and ultimately impact characteristics further “downstream” (e.g., health behaviors, conditions, and outcomes).

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that only 20 percent of health outcomes can be attributed to clinical care. Upstream social drivers of health account for the other 80 percent, including social and economic factors (40 percent), physical environment (10 percent), and health behaviors (30 percent).

Source: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, Going Beyond Clinical Walls: Solving Complex Problems, 2014. Graphic designed by ProMedica.

Source: American Hospital Association, Addressing Social Determinants of Health, 2018.

Using SDOH for Health Equity

In today’s healthcare system, organizations are expected to improve health outcomes and cut costs. To do this successfully, they need to really know their patients and address the social and economic factors that affect how healthy their patients are, how well they recover from illness, and how much their care costs.

Health inequities are driven by a complex set of interrelated factors. Understanding the discussion in recent years of appropriate terminology and health equity-related drivers and how to distinguish between these terms is an important context for evaluating these indicators. This continuing discussion shows the interconnectedness of these concepts, while also recognizing that not all characteristics and needs can or should be addressed in the same way. Measures to represent these concepts should be constructed in different ways with different data used to calculate them.

At the highest level, social drivers of health include all of the social determinants of health (conditions in environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health functioning and quality of outcomes and risks), health-related social needs (individual-level manifestations of SDOH), and social risk factors (adverse social conditions that are associated with poor health). The shift in language acknowledges the role of policymakers, communities, and individuals when addressing the root causes of health disparities.

Innovations in SDOH at California Community Health Centers

California's Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are responding to the non-medical needs of low-income patients with imagination and commitment. Click here to learn more about the the history of SDOH and innovation spotlights from eight California CHCs.

California Social Health Network (2018-2024)

The California Social Health Network (CSHN), active from 2018 to 2024, aimed to facilitate information exchange on systemic barriers related to social needs, fostering collaboration at regional and state levels to address SDOH. Focusing on the value of cross-sectoral partnerships, CPCA led discussions to explore how CHCs tackled SDOH, bringing statewide leaders together to cultivate relationships for collective initiatives that impacted the health, well-being, and quality of life for Californians.

CSHN Recorded Meetings


If you have any questions, or need more information regarding social drivers of health please email