Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, MD, MS, discusses the need for concrete changes addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) and respiratory health.
We need to move into a space now thinking about implementation science, said Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, MD, MS, a pediatric pulmonologist at Columbia University Medical Center and incoming director of that program.
What are some potential solutions to address social determinants of health in respiratory health?
That's a big question. What are the solutions? I think, on the one hand, identifying the problem is really important. I think a lot of the research to date has been focused on describing the problem. But we really need to move into a space now, thinking about implementation science and how do we implement interventions that will have meaningful and lasting change. That comes on the individual level. What are some strategies to mitigate individual-level exposure to pollutants and other social stressors that may contribute toward disease? But also thinking in a broader political context. What are some policies that we can work toward that improve the health of all people who live in conditions that they shouldn't be living in? For example, certain housing conditions. I have patients who tell me about the quality of their housing, and they cannot afford a better situation. How can we protect these people? These are the areas that we really need to be focused on, instead of really just describing the problem in more detail.
What do you look forward to in this field of research?
I think that now is a really exciting time, because I feel like people are starting to open their eyes and see that there are factors, like racism, that significantly influence the health of a large population of people living in this country, including children. I'm hoping that in this movement that we're experiencing right now, people will feel even more empowered, more emboldened, but also inspired to really do something to change the situation for many of our youngsters living in this country. So I'm hopeful.