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Covering social determinants and disparities in health is complicated, with a complex and wide-ranging set of factors playing a part in the unequal health status of various groups. Research has shown that education, income, neighborhood and social networks all play a part and it's important that health journalists understand how those elements affect the people they're covering.

A few tips and techniques can help you find new stories, sharpen and deepen your reporting and help you ask better questions of the experts you interview. You’ll learn about new research in the field, hear from experts in public health and sociology and see how other reporters incorporate information about social determinants and disparities in health status in their stories.

This site will highlight coverage, explain complicated but essential key concepts, point you to useful data, shared wisdom from fellow reporters, as well as a growing glossary of terms.

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We thank the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for the support that made this Web portal possible. The organization has not directed any content on these pages, but rather has provided financial sponsorship that allows us to pay for the costs associated with collecting, writing, editing and presenting the most valuable resources we can.

Send us ideas, questions, suggestions. Share your successes. Point us to good stories. Let us know how we can be more helpful. We wish you success as you pursue one of health journalism’s core topics.

About your topic leader

Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey is AHCJ's topic leader covering the social determinants and disparities that impact health. Her goal is to provide AHCJ members the resources they need to cover the root causes of health care gaps by writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and other material.

Based in Washington, D.C., Heavey covered health care for more than a decade, reporting on health care regulation and policy before later focusing on the intersection of health, poverty and demographics. While on the beat at Reuters, she wrote about everything from brain stimulation and clot-grabbing snake-like devices to drug safety and biosimilars. She also helped cover Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Her work has appeared on, been picked up by The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNBC and other outlets, and led news websites for Yahoo! and Google. She previously wrote about health for and KidsHealth.

Heavey was a 2013 fellow at the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT and previously with the National Institutes of Health/Dartmouth University “Medicine in the Media" program and the now-shuttered Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at American University's School of Communications.

If you have suggestions for Heavey, questions you’d like to see answered or examples of things you’d like guidance on, please send them to or tweet them to @susanheavey.