DiscoverThe Curbsiders Internal Medicine Podcast#220 Social Determinants of Health with Karen DeSalvo MD
#220 Social Determinants of Health with Karen DeSalvo MD

#220 Social Determinants of Health with Karen DeSalvo MD

Update: 2020-06-181


We’re going upstream! Dr. Karen DeSalvo (@KBDeSalvo) talks social determinants of health, arming us with a framework to consider this very challenging aspect of patient care. As Society for General Internal Medicine President and Chief Health Officer at Google Health, she shares her clinical and public health experience, including weathering Katrina in New Orleans. While our clinical care largely focuses on the downstream medical consequences, we must recognize the upstream social context to address the barriers to health and wellbeing. 


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  • Written and Produced by: Emi Okamoto MD
  • Cover Art: Kate Grant MBChb, MRCGP
  • Hosts: Matthew Watto MD, FACP; Paul Williams MD, FACP; Emi Okamoto MD
  • Editor: Matthew Watto MD (written materials); Clair Morgan of
  • Guest: Karen DeSalvo MD, MPH, MSc



We are excited to announce that the Curbsiders are now partnering with VCU Health Continuing Education to offer continuing education credits for physicians and other healthcare professionals. Check out for and create your FREE account!


Time Stamps

  • Intro, disclaimer, guest bio 0:44
  • Dr Desalvo’s one-liner 3:34
  • Picks of the Week*- The Great Influenza  5:01
  • Dr Desalvo’s advice and past experience 6:10
  • Case from Kashlak 10:30
  • What about the evidence for social determinants? 13:40
  • What to do about this in the clinic, and is it worth screening? 16:06
  • Approaching as a team and with the community 19:40
  • How do we affect the upstream, before the downstream consequences? 22:40
  • NAM recommendations and framework 26:00
  • The role of technology 30:00
  • What the SDOH are, and who they affect 34:00
  • Start paying attention to SDOH 37:00
  • Outro 38:49


*The Curbsiders participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising commissions by linking to Amazon. Simply put, if you click on our links and buy something we earn a (very) small commission, yet you don’t pay any extra.



Listeners will recognize the ubiquity of SDOH and their effects on individual well-being and disease.


Learning objectives

After listening to this episode listeners will…  

  1. Recognize social determinants of health and the impact on health
  2. Give a framework for how to improve patient care by focusing on social determinants
  3. Recognize how to leverage care teams and technology in innovative ways to improve health of individuals



Dr DeSalvo was a former board member of Humana. The Curbsiders report no relevant financial disclosures. 



DeSalvo KB, Okamoto EE, Williams PN, Watto MF. “#217 Social Determinants of Health with Karen DeSalvo MD”. The Curbsiders Internal Medicine Podcast. June 18, 2020.

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#220 Social Determinants of Health with Karen DeSalvo MD

#220 Social Determinants of Health with Karen DeSalvo MD