Methods: Textual (e.g., press releases) and visual data (e.g., photographs, infographics) were hand-selected from web content, company emails, and webinars. Data were screened for relevance to the study questions and analyzed using conventional content analysis. Texts were coded thematically using Microsoft Word, guided by the principles of grounded theory, critical discourse analysis, and an abductive approach to qualitative analysis.
Findings: Unite US promotes the patient-level, cost-saving, and risk-avoidant aspects of the SDOH framework in both textual and visual data. The SDOH are rendered as measurable, preventable, treatable, and individual. Additionally, findings suggest that Unite US promotes partnerships with private capital (e.g., Lyft, CVS) in ways that may contradict the meaningful engagement with the SDOH and elimination of health inequities. For example . Finally, the analysis suggests that intervening on the SDOH is rhetorically aligned with the tech industry through the deployment of terms such as “reinvention,” “disruption,” “streamlining,” and “return on investment.”
Conclusion and Implications: Findings highlight the relationship between private capital and innovations on the SDOH framework. By examining the frames and discourses deployed by those shaping the SDOH framework in practice and research settings with software products, social work practitioners and scholars can better discern which interventions are more accurately and meaningfully targeting social determinants. These findings also point to an emerging for-profit SDOH industry.