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Polygence Scholar2023
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Priya Verma

Class of 2024Peoria, AZ


Hi! I'm Priya Verma, and my project is on the barriers to implementing community-based healthcare initiatives to address some of the most prevalent social determinants of health: mental health, food insecurity, and lack of stable housing. I've also looked into some possible ways to address those barriers to suggest some recommendations for the programs I study.


  • "Overcoming Barriers to Implementing Community Health Initiatives to Address Social Determinants of Health" with mentor Emily (Aug. 15, 2023)

Project Portfolio

Overcoming Barriers to Implementing Community Health Initiatives to Address Social Determinants of Health

Started Apr. 24, 2023

Abstract or project description

Community health needs assessments (CHNAs) in multiple American cities have repeatedly identified mental health problems, food insecurity, and a lack of stable housing as major barriers to healthcare access for low-income residents. Mental health problems can lead to difficulties in communication with medical professionals or discrimination within the community (HonorHealth Deer Valley Medical Center, 2021). Addressing food insecurity often comes as a priority above seeking medical care for those in poverty, even though a lack of nutritious food can worsen or cause medical problems (Seervai, 2018). A lack of stable housing can cause difficulties with insurance and billing, leading to further barriers in seeking and receiving healthcare. In the past, community health initiatives and community health workers have been keystones for the communities they serve, providing people with the resources and care they need. Thus, improving their effectiveness has the potential to drastically increase community health. In this paper, 5 community health needs assessments were reviewed, showing that mental health, food insecurity, and housing access were the most prevalent issues barring access to healthcare. 6 community health initiatives addressing these social determinants of health in low-income communities were studied in order to identify major obstacles in their implementation according to employees of these programs. The most common issues identified were employee turnover, burnout, inept management, and low pay for high caseloads. Next, possible ways to mitigate these issues were proposed, focusing on the potential of nonprofit hospitals and government agencies, as well as listening to the needs of employees. Reviews of community health programs and employee feedback identify inept management, burnout, and low pay as some of the most common problems within these initiatives. Increased support from nonprofit hospitals and government programs, along with restructuring management to prioritize people with experience within the field, were identified as key solutions to the root problems of a lack of resources and poor hiring practices.