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Social Determinants of Health and their Effects on Health Outcomes
The social determinants of health are the societal factors that influence people’s health. Specifically, they include conditions in the environments which in which individuals are born, brought up, play, live, work, worship, and age (HealthyPeople, n.d.). As usual, these conditions affect health outcomes in diverse ways. Examples of social determinants of health include access to health care services, availability of resources such as food and housing, social support, community-based resources such as recreational facilities, access to and quality of education, access to economic and employment opportunities, culture, access to mass media and new technologies, poverty, crime, violence, and so on (HealthyPeople, n.d.).
Access to health care services influences health outcomes in the sense that diseases are prevented and treated. Lack of health care services aggravates even minor illnesses leading to suffering and deaths. Higher income and social status are associated with improved health while jobless and poor people live in poor health conditions. That means the greater the gap between the wealthy and poorer members of the society, the bigger the difference in health (WHO, 2019). Regarding the availability of social support networks, enhanced support from friends, families, colleagues and communities is linked to improved health while lack of social support is associated with poor health (WHO, 2019). Meanwhile, poor standards of education are associated with poor health while negative cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and other beliefs lead to bad health. People in employment are healthier while those who can access resources such as safe water, unpolluted air, safe houses, and good transport network such as better roads also experience improved health (WHO, 2019). Crime, violence, and lack of access to the emerging technologies such as the internet and mobile phones also contribute to poor health.
(HealthyPeople. (n.d.). Social determinants of health. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topics/social-determinants-of- health
World Health Organization (WHO). (2019). The determinants of health. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en/
What I find most interesting about social determinants of health and its effect on health outcomes is how access to medical care has minimal impact. I always associated access to healthcare with having a greater impact on health outcomes. According to Magnan (2017) “As a determinant of health, medical care is insufficient for ensuring better health outcomes” (p. 1).
A lot of the literature seems to agree that socioeconomic factors play a larger role. Since education, income and family support are major players for better health outcomes, it would make sense to focus on our youth with early prevention education and encouragement promoting ongoing education.
Early prevention education is key and should begin at a young age to help improve socioeconomic factors and encourage healthy behaviors such as diet and exercise. This type of early prevention may deter youth from engaging in behaviors which are proven to have a negative impact on our health such as tobacco use, alcohol use and unsafe sex practices.
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