There's more to health care than doctor visits. Researchers have identified what they call "social determinants of health," a set of powerful factors that contribute to health inequality around the world and here in Minnesota.
Such factors include wealth, diet, education and housing. But another such factor is more subjective: a person's sense of power or agency in the larger society.
Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are working to promote public health in part by raising awareness of these determinants of health. How can public policy help address such factors?
LEARN MORE ABOUT SOCIAL FACTORS AND HEALTH
FAQ: Social Determinants of Health
Questions and answers, as compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Social Determinants of Health
Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. We know that taking care of ourselves by eating well and staying active, not smoking, getting the recommended immunizations and screening tests, and seeing a doctor when we are sick all influence our health. Our health is also determined in part by access to social and economic opportunities; the resources and supports available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities; the quality of our schooling; the safety of our workplaces; the cleanliness of our water, food, and air; and the nature of our social interactions and relationships. The conditions in which we live explain in part why some Americans are healthier than others and why Americans more generally are not as healthy as they could be. (HealthyPeople.gov)
Getting Serious About the Social Determinants of Health
If the biggest problems related to health outcomes have to do with factors outside of health, shouldn't we be widening our circle to include folks who are experts in the worlds of education, community and economic development, housing, and social justice? We have long talked about the effects of these issues on health, but we haven't quite pushed ourselves to the point where we acknowledge that we in the health world are perhaps not the best people to tackle those issues. (James R. Knickman, Institute of Medicine)
• Anthony Iton on the connection between health and wealth