Researchers, though few, have begun to study the impact of SOMH. One study found SOMH implementation reduced infant mortality rates over time, though the effect was mediated by increased Medicaid spending (Patton, 2014).
Currently, there is a dearth of research on the reach, methods, and impact of SOMH on reducing health disparities and whether their activities extend beyond the traditional disease-oriented model to intervene on SDH.
Contact information for each SOMH officer was obtained from the National Association of State Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH).
The research team developed an online survey, hosted by Qualtrics[R], to identify SOMH practices, priorities, activities and methods.
To identify priorities and emphases for SOMH, officers were asked to select from a list of common health areas SOMH often emphasize.
We discovered that one office had recently been de-funded prior to the survey's administration; another had not yet established an official SOMH; and no potential reason for nonresponse could be determined for the third office.
Frequencies were calculated for participants' selections of the most common activities among SOMH over the past three years (Table 1).
Officers also rank-ordered common population targets for interventions and initiatives within their SOMH (Table 2).
Other SDH were given even lower levels of support: only six SOMH addressed quality of education received by minority youth, five concentrated on reducing unemployment, three tackled issues dealing with public transportation, and another three worked to reduce neighborhood violence.
One example of how SOMH and other like-minded entities can shift their focus to more "upstream," social determinant variables would be to focus on the quality of education received by minority youth.
Although SOMH may not be able to directly influence the quality of education received by minority youth, they can work together, prioritizing education and advocating for changes in policy and practice.
As "bridge" organizations that link policymakers with communities, SOMH could use their unique position and influence to help fill in gaps in these sorts of areas.