Giving Compass' Take:

· Writing for USA TODAY, Robert M. Kaplan shares his opinion that investing in social determinants of health is a better solutions to addressing premature death and poor health over medical treatments.

· What are some social determinants of health? How can donors invest in SDOH?

· Check out this article about addressing social determinant of health

For the third consecutive year, life expectancy in the United States has declined. In fact, for the past 60 years our life expectancy has dropped in comparison to other rich countries. As we consider the state of our union, we should ask ourselves how this is possible, since the United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world.

We think medicine will fix our problems. We should invest in medical treatments, but we must face disappointing results from medical research: Even the best clinical care has little effect on population life expectancy.

Consider that successful treatment of colorectal cancer could add 12 years of life to as many as 155,000 adults. This sounds promising until we look beyond the 155,000 individuals. Across our population, the treatment adds only about one week to average life expectancy. While valuable for individual patients, this treatment does not improve the life expectancy of our overall population.

Another problem is that our faith in medical treatments is not always matched by results from the most rigorous research. The randomized clinical trial is the most trusted method to assess the value of medical treatment. Although the benefits of medication are broadcast widely, positive results from clinical trials are actually quite rare.

Read the full article about investing in social determinants of health by Robert M. Kaplan at USA TODAY.