World Health Organization reports highlight health inequalities and social determinants of health (SDoH), and the need for their consideration in strategic health plans. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these issues and government imposed COVID-19 restrictions may have prolonged healthcare consequences including effects on SDoH. Seventy percent of health outcomes are attributable to socio-economic factors, whereas medical care accounts for only 10%-15%. There should therefore be a focus on upskilling all health and social care practitioners. Clinical pharmacists are uniquely positioned to contribute to reducing health disparities, but current foci are around upstream interventions such as addressing polypharmacy and deprescribing. Given the "positive care law" for pharmacy, with high accessibility to services even in deprived areas, social prescribing training and intervention pathways could have significant impact. Limited evidence shows there is enthusiasm for this but there is a need for further research to influence policy and practice including: pharmacy roles, training needs, intervention and evaluation of impact.


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Cite as

Cunningham, S., Jebara, T. & Douglas, F. 2022, 'Addressing social determinants of health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: urgent need to consider policy and practice in relation to pharmacy's contribution', International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, article no: riac072. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpp/riac072

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Last updated: 08 September 2022
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