Addressing Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities

Transforming Communities, Health & Wellness


Grandfather and granddaughter walk in the park

Many factors contribute to an individual's health and wellness beyond access to medical care. These contributing factors, known as social determinants of health, include poverty, food insecurity, housing instability, education, employment, and access to transportation, among others. Social determinants of health are often at the core of health disparities among underserved and vulnerable populations.

Centene's health plans cover 14 million members, and many of those members live in rural communities. As part of Centene's holistic approach to healthcare, it's vital that rural populations receive tailored solutions to their unique challenges.

In 2015, the Centene Foundation for Quality Healthcare (CFQH) released a request for proposals to rural counties in California, Kansas, Louisiana, and Massachusetts, seeking community-based solutions for health issues related to local social determinants of health.

Responses focused on five key areas:

  • Identified a specific social determinant and provided evidence of the related negative impact on the health of the community.
  • Included a broad cross section of relevant public and private stakeholders in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the proposed solution.
  • Provided a detailed description of the proposed solution.
  • Supported a reasonable expectation of significant measurable outcomes within two years.
  • Defined metrics and provided a detailed description of data collection and reporting structures.

The CFQH funded one initiative from each state that addressed the social determinants of health and health needs of rural populations. The full white paper, hosted below, outlines three programs that were funded as a result of this initiative:

Kansas: Using Technology to Address Behavioral Health in Rural Communities

Louisiana: Ag and Nutrition Education for Youth and Families to Promote Healthy Habits

California: Building Partnerships to Address Health and Housing for the Justice-Involved

Business units across Centene, including Sunflower Health Plan, Louisiana Healthcare Connections, and California Health & Wellness, participated in these projects. These efforts confirm that local communities can facilitate the efforts of partners and stakeholders to improve health outcomes. The models developed through these initiatives are being shared across the country in hopes that other rural communities facing similar challenges can benefit from these projects. Access the full white paper for additional details.