Seeing the Big PictureIntegrating social health considerations to improve behavioral health outcomes.

A group of adults and children eat a meal at a table.
Social detrements of health illustration

For clients with developmental disabilities and their families, it can be challenging to find the right level of care and support—especially with today’s current practices. Often, they are faced with a disjointed care journey and inconsistent outcomes.

Traditional approaches to care may exacerbate these problems as treatment can be shaped without considering the variety of factors that can impact behavioral health and the ability to successfully onboard and sustain treatment.

Catalight is working to widen perspectives on behavioral health by identifying social determinants of health and how they impact a client’s ability to benefit from behavioral health care. This includes working with the providers in its network to integrate social determinants of health into treatment plans and to build aspects of social health into their research and data collection to help produce better outcomes.

Expanding the approach to treatment

For more than a decade, Catalight has provided clients and their families with timely access to evidence-based care with flexible treatment options to drive better outcomes. With a multidisciplinary care team, Catalight’s flexible interventions benefit the wellbeing of the entire family, giving them the tools, support and confidence to handle everyday challenges.

To measure success, the organization looks at the breadth of outcomes across the entire family and has found that positively impacting the parents and family also positively impacts the child, producing improved outcomes.

As part of this approach, Catalight takes a holistic view of population health management, considering social health and physical health, as well as behavioral health. This allows clinicians to take a more proactive approach to overall health to improve outcomes, reduce disparities in the intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) population and help prevent new health problems from developing.

Social health and behavioral therapy outcomes

Catalight’s research and clinical excellence team cascades best practice training to its provider network, helping practitioners identify social determinants of health and social risks, including health literacy.1

This mirrors the U.S. government’s Healthy People 2030 initiative, which sets data-driven national objectives to improve health and wellbeing over the next decade and identifies social determinants of health, health equity and health literacy as its three priority areas.2

Social determinants of health are the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age—overlayed with a wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life, including the various social, economic and environmental factors that influence an individual’s health.3

These determinants can impact a person’s access to healthcare, quality of life, and ability to live a healthy lifestyle. Some examples of social determinants of health include education and skills, access to food and housing, and money and resources.

With training, clinicians have an opportunity to pick up on social health risks and help influence change so clients and families are ultimately able to better engage in care and benefit from treatment.

Improving health literacy improves outcomes

As an example, one of Catalight’s key focus areas involves research, measurement and practical treatment applications to improve health literacy with its clients and families.

Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals can find, understand, and use information and services to make informed health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.4

For Catalight’s client families, health literacy is a measure of an individual’s ability to understand their child’s treatment and take it to the next step—being able to advocate for their child’s needs.

However, positively impacting this measure can be more difficult than it seems. Take basic literacy for example—on average, 54% of U.S. adults have literacy below 6th grade level.5 If their literacy level doesn’t allow them to understand what the treatment plan is and why it is in place, they won’t be able to advocate for their child’s needs.

Examples of how Catalight is encouraging its providers to practically apply health literacy standards include:

  • Using common language. Removing jargon, avoiding technical or clinical terms and acronyms.
  • Checking for understanding. Asking for examples and giving examples using their actual child will help confirm understanding.

Health literacy can help shape the future of the family and their overall health outlook. Beyond a specific intervention, Catalight is empowering families to understand their treatment and inspire confidence to advocate for their child’s needs with teachers, physicians and other caregivers. Ultimately, it can set them up for success and have a ripple effect across other aspects of their health and for their entire family.

Looking ahead holistically to improve outcomes

Beyond their expansive behavioral health care practice today, Catalight is working to integrate health literacy as a larger component of its framework for care. The organization is working with its clinical teams to integrate more aspects of health literacy into its parent-mediated treatments. Catalight is also measuring the social determinants of health via its Wellbeing Scales and other mechanisms to collect more data and track progress.

It’s another example of how Catalight’s proactive approach to looking at the breadth of outcomes across the entire family increases self-determinism and improves overall wellbeing.