Determinants of Health

Our health is greatly shaped by the choices we make for ourselves and for our families, but the choices we make often depend on what is available to us based on where we are born, grow, live, learn, work, and age. It’s hard to be healthy without access to reliable and well-paying jobs, quality schools, safe neighborhoods, and affordable and nutritious foods.

Pitkin County Public Health believes everyone deserves the opportunity to live long, healthy lives, regardless of their income, education, or ethnic background. That’s why we are working together across sectors to find solutions that will give everyone a chance to thrive. This means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live at the highest level of health reasonably possible within an individual’s reach if social, economic, and environmental conditions and resources are adequately available. 

Social Determinants of Health

We recognize health starts at the most local level - in families, neighborhoods, jobs, and schools - and every community has its own unique challenges and opportunities for health and well-being. In addition to safe and affordable housing, several social and environmental conditions impact people’s health, functioning, and quality of life, and it’s critical that we look around our communities to see what’s shaping our health. Public Health collaborates across the following areas to work together on innovative solutions to promote the health of communities and health equity.

Economic Stability

  • Employment
  • Food insecurity
  • Housing Instability
  • Poverty


  • Early childhood education and development
  • Enrollment in High School
  • High School graduation
  • Language and literacy

Social and Community Context

  • Civic participation
  • Discrimination
  • Incarceration
  • Social cohesion

Health and Health Care

  • Access to health care
  • Access to primary care
  • Health literacy

Neighborhood & Build Environment

  • Access to foods that support healthy eating patterns
  • Crime and violence
  • Environmental conditions
  • Quality of housing

Health Equity