In the past two decades the notion that medical care plays only a partial, and often limited, role in population health outcomes has become widely accepted among health researchers, even as they continue to debate the relative contributions of individual behaviors, socioeconomic status, and the physical environment, among other influences. This work has generated a useful vocabulary, and speaking of “upstream” and “downstream” influences, “social determinants” and “fundamental causes of health” is now commonplace in scholarly circles. A corollary and equally prominent branch of research has documented persistent health disparities between population groups, especially defined along ethnic and racial lines, and has offered multiple explanations for them, ranging from accumulated day-to-day stress to institutional arrangements and public policies that result in unequal health risks. Whatever internal disagreements and nuances remain, there is little disagreement that health is an inextricably social, not just medical, matter. But while declaring the need for a movement is easy enough, defining its exact contours is another matter altogether. Who will be its main participants? What will be its primary objectives? Will it constrain itself to stakeholders within the health sector or aim more broadly?
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