PhenX Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Assessments Collection

The PhenX Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Collection, available in the PhenX Toolkit, expands data protocols to help measure individual as well as structural factors that shape behaviors and health outcomes.

Core Collection, 16 measurement protocols
Specialty Collections: Individual SDOH, 23 measurement protocols and Structural SDOH, 14 measurement protocols

The PhenX SDOH Toolkit provides standard data collection protocols that make it easier for investigators to select measures for use in their own research and to help with comparing, sharing, and combining data from different studies.

Widespread adoption of the collection can lead to greater understanding of social factors that affect health by facilitating the design and evaluation of interventions to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

About the Collection

The SDOH Collection is arranged as a core collection, and two specialty collections, individual and structural.

Core Collection 16 protocols

The Core Collection is designed to create common data elements for measuring key variables across studies or clinical trials. It includes elements such as:
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Gender Identity
  • Annual Family Income
  • English Proficiency
  • Occupational Prestige
  • Access to Health Services

Specialty Collections

These two specialty collections are complementary to the Core Collection and allow more nuanced investigations of how SDOH influence health.

Specialty Collection

Individual SDOH
23 protocols

Information collected from and about people answering for themselves at the individual level of the NIMHD Research Framework about their physical/built, and sociocultural environment or healthcare system.

Individual Collection

The Individual SDOH Collection includes elements such as:

  • Affordability of accessing dental care or prescriptions
  • Discrimination in health care
  • Family history of incarceration
  • Health care communications
  • Housing instability due to affordability
  • Internet access
  • Religious behaviors and congregational support
Specialty Collection

Structural SDOH
14 protocols

Protocols at the societal or community level of the NIMHD Research Framework. measuring the physical/built environment or sociocultural environment of a specific geographic area such as state, county, or a census-defined unit, such as census tract or ZIP Code.

Structural Collection

Examples of protocol elements in the Structural SDOH Collection include:

  • Minimum wage
  • Neighborhood walking and biking environment
  • Residential concentrations of income
  • Water access and sanitation
  • Race/ethnic residential segregation

Protocol Collection Features

Researchers are encouraged to use the PhenX SDOH protocols for all primary data collection. The new collection of standard measures of SDOH in behavioral, clinical, and translational research facilitates:

  • Harmonizing of information from different studies over time, expanding research and collaboration among researchers.
  • Ability to validate study findings by replicating data and aiding in comparisons.
  • Capability to combine study samples, which can provide greater statistical power.
  • Ability to conduct cross-study analysis to increase the impact of individual studies.

About the PhenX Toolkit

The PhenX Toolkit (consensus measures for Phenotypes and eXposures) provides recommended standard data collection protocols for conducting biomedical research.

The Toolkit provides detailed protocols for collecting data and tools to help investigators incorporate these protocols into their studies. Using protocols from the PhenX Toolkit facilitates cross-study analysis, potentially increasing the scientific impact of individual studies.

The protocols are selected by working groups of domain experts using a consensus process, which includes the scientific community.

In 2020 and 2021, NIMHD funded administrative supplements to establish two workgroups to expand the selection of high-quality SDOH standard measures. Each working group included scientists with relevant expertise from the community and was led by a team of NIMHD scientists.

NIMHD PhenX SDOH Working Group

  • Dr. Nancy Jones, Co-chair
  • Dr. Vanessa Marshall, Co-chair
  • Dr. Monica Webb Hooper
  • Dr. Rada Dagher
  • Dr. Gniesha Y. Dinwiddie
  • Dr. Tilda Farhat
  • Dr. Gabriel Lai

Full 2022 SDOH Working Group

Full 2020 SDOH Working Group

Page updated Dec. 6, 2023