Understanding the Social Determinants of Health

Understanding the Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health are the external factors that have a bearing on people’s health outside professional healthcare. Social services, education, geographical location, and housing are the common social determinants of health. 

Social determinants have a huge impact on our health. Many healthcare organizations create strategies on the basis of these determinants to fulfill the needs of patients outside of hospitals. 

Also, these enable medical experts to encourage patients to develop better health support systems. In this way, the risk of falling ill among patients decreases, which helps them live a healthier life. 

It is crucial to understand the social determinants of health and their significance in patients’ life. Relevant policymakers and healthcare organizations need to take initiatives to address social determinants of health. 

It helps them shape right policies and implement practices that promote health equity. The understanding of social determinants is essential to improve health quality and decreases health disparities among populations. 

Without further ado, let’s explore and understand the social determinants of health.

Access to Education

According to different studies, access to quality education can play a key role in ensuring better health for any given population set. Patients with good educational backgrounds can advocate for themselves better in the healthcare system and engage with healthcare providers effectively. 

For example, if you have a public health degree, you can not only ensure awareness of public health measures but, as masters in public health jobs are aplenty, you can secure your financial future as well. 

Access to quality education can also help you financially, meaning that you’ll be able to access better opportunities for your physical and mental health. 

A strong correlation exists between an individual’s education level and their personal income and health indicators. If you have access to quality education as a child, then it will translate to better living conditions for you in the future. Good education also means more career opportunities and guaranteed professional growth. 

People belonging to low-income households experience social discrimination and barriers to education. Due to such obstacles, people belonging to low-income households often struggle to get high-paying jobs and face issues attaining economic stability. 

And due to financial instability, people can experience health issues, such as constant depression, heart diseases, and diabetes. 

Socioeconomic Factors 

Socioeconomic factors are also one of the major social determinants of health. Poverty can limit access to healthy food, good education, and safe neighborhoods. Most importantly, poverty affects the living conditions of people, and they may lose reliable housing due to different reasons. 

It could be due to drug addiction issues, mental illness, violence, or any chronic health problem. In short, poverty is one of the major factors of homelessness that can increase difficulties for people. 

To treat homeless people, hospitals and healthcare organizations have to form partnerships with housing departments. It helps to provide homeless people with a proper place to live with essential living facilities. 

Safe and quality housing not only provides a shelter for homeless people to live in but also educates them to follow the right health practices. 

Geography 

Geography can be one of the main obstacles to healthcare access for the people who live in rural areas. In such cases, patients have limited healthcare facilities and options, so they face difficulties in reaching hospitals or doctors’ offices on time due to great distance. 

Some healthcare organizations are trying to leverage telehealth to fill this gap, but access to a reliable broadband is still a concern in many areas. 

Some healthcare organizations are trying to improve access to care in rural areas by building community health partnerships. However, this strategy has still not produced the desired result for the healthcare sector but is expected to work in the future. 

Economic Stability 

Economic stability is crucial not only for living your desired lifestyle but also to afford high-quality medical care. And it can be only possible if you have a steady and high-paying job that can help you manage your medical expenses. 

As mentioned above, access to quality education is an important social determinant of health. Attaining good education and economic stability are interconnected. 

Once you have a relevant and high-level degree, you can get a job at your desired pay scale. It can ensure housing stability and food security and also help you increase your savings for emergency situations. 

Community Environment 

Another crucial social determinant of health is the community environment that impacts individual health. The interactions between family members, individuals, and coworkers can affect their mental health. 

For example, if you are experiencing discrimination at the workplace, then it is going to impact your self-esteem and overall mood. It will drain your energy and be a source of distraction for you, which will affect your performance at work. 

On the other hand, it is important to form a healthy community environment in educational institutions. It can help to address issues like bullying and depression among students to ensure they remain in a perfectly healthy state. 

It is important to understand that there are some social determinants that people cannot individually control. You need to form healthy relationships at work, at home, and at the community level. It will help and improve the overall well-being of the community, and that is only possible with a collective effort. 

Also, it is important to create awareness among people about how they can improve the community environment. For example, by running social campaigns for the implementation of smoke-free zones, awareness regarding smoking-related health concerns and drug use, we can ensure that the community health as a whole improves. 

Conclusion 

Every social determinant has health impacts and manifest in different ways. From access to quality education to economic stability to geography, each social determinant requires policymakers’ and organizations’ attention to take the right measures in order to limit its negative impact on health. It is also important to create awareness among people, so they can pay attention to factors that can impact their health positively in the long run. 

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