Social Determinants of Health in Appalachia: How music is used to heal

"Music works in both magical and clinically substantiated ways in communities with rich musical traditions that span bluegrass, country, gospel, and more," writes Taylor Sisk in a long-form piece in National Geographic about how music and health are intertwined and inextricably linked throughout the Applachian region.

In a region that is home to a rich musical tradition, Sisk writes, for Dr. Joe Smiddy of the Remote Area Medical pop-up clininc, to be "well aware that health outcomes are shaped by where you work, where you live, how you live, and your access to services, and healthy food – the social determinants of health" - is not surprising, but a welcomed approach. "For Smiddy, a song is a potential connection, one that allows him to gain insight into what’s brought this person to this moment of need."

"This region faces some significant healthcare challenges. The four westernmost counties of Virginia–Buchanon, Dickenson, Lee, and Wise–all rank near the bottom in the state in health outcomes, including higher instances of asthma, COPD, and emphysema. Black lung disease remains prevalent; most alarmingly, an advanced stage, progressive massive fibrosis appears to be on the rise." Sisk continues, “Music reaches deep." Throughout the region, the Sisk explores the many ways music and health are linked in service of healthier communities, physical, mentally, and emotionally.

Read more here.