Social Determinants Of Health

Social Determinants Of Health

Social Determinants Of Health

What are social determinants of health? How do social determinants of health contribute to the development of illness? What is a communicable disease chain? Are there steps that a nurse can take to break a link within the communicable disease chain? Give a specific example.

Readings within your text covering international/global health and the following websites will assist you in answering these questions:

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Global Health website:

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Global Health website:

Families USA – Why Global Health Matters—Here and Abroad website:

World Health Organization (WHO) website:

Non-medical elements that influence health outcomes are referred to as social determinants of health (SDH). 
They are the circumstances under which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, as well as the larger collection of forces and institutions that shape the conditions of daily existence. 
Economic policies and systems, development objectives, social norms, social policies, and political systems are examples of these forces and systems.


The SDH have significant impact on health disparities, which are inequitable and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. 
Health and sickness follow social gradient in countries of all income levels: the lower the socioeconomic position, the poorer the health.
The following are some examples of socioeconomic determinants of health that can have an impact on health equity in both positive and negative ways:


Income and social security
Job insecurity and unemployment
Workplace conditions
Food scarcity
Housing, basic necessities, and the environment are all important considerations.
Early childhood growth and development
Non-discrimination and social inclusion
Conflict in the structure
Access to reasonably priced, high-quality health care.


According to research, social determinants of health can be more influential than health care or lifestyle choices in determining health. 
Numerous studies, for example, imply that SDH accounts for 30-55 percent of health outcomes. 
Furthermore, estimations reveal that the contribution of non-health sectors to population health outcomes exceeds the contribution of the health sector.
Addressing SDH effectively is critical for improving health and decreasing long-standing health disparities, which necessitates engagement from all sectors and civil society.

Social determinants of health are an individual’s personal circumstances that impact their health and well-being. They include political, socioeconomic, and cultural factors, alongside how easily someone can access healthcare, education, a safe place to live, and nutritious food.

The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source

World Health Organization

  •  Highly respected international organization

defines social determinants of health as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.”

Social determinants of health are an extensive range of factors that exist throughout all aspects of society. However, they are separate from medical care or a person’s individual lifestyle choices.

A study cited by the National Academy of Medicine found that medical care itself only accounted for 10–20% of the contributors to people’s health outcomes.

By contrast, the many social determinants of health play a much bigger role in influencing a person’s health, making up 80–90% of the contributing factors.

This article explores social determinants of health, including their forms and the roles they play in shaping healthcare outcomes.

Access to quality healthcare

Around 1 in 10 people in the United States are living without health insurance. This means they may not have a primary healthcare professional. They may also not have the money to make vital purchases for their health, such as medications or tests.

Additionally, people may liveTrusted Source too far away from a healthcare clinic to get the quality of care they deserve.

Black Americans are more likely to be uninsured than white Americans. In 2018, 9.7% of Black Americans did not have health insurance. Among white Americans, this rate was 5.4%.

Improving quality healthcare access

There are many ways to help improve public access to quality healthcare. For example, clinics could offer remote appointments where possible.

The Healthy People 2030Trusted Source campaign has several objectives in place to improve healthcare access. For example, it aims to:

  • reduce the wait time in emergency departments
  • increase the proportion of adults who receive lung cancer screenings
  • increase community services that can provide health screenings

Learn more about health equity here.

Economic stability

Economic stability is vitalTrusted Source to affording lifestyle choices and paying for quality medical care that keeps people healthy.

A well-paying, steady job is critical for food security and housing stability. Savings are essential for managing chronic conditions or emergencies.

However, 1 in 10 people in the U.S. live in poverty.

Those in steady work may not earn enough to gain access to good quality healthcare. Moreover, chronic conditions or disabilities may put people at an even greater disadvantage.

Many studies have shown wide gaps in health outcomes between countries and communities that have different social determinants of health. People living in high income countries have a life expectancy that is 19 yearsTrusted Source higher than that of people living in low income countries.

Improving economic stability

The Healthy People 2030Trusted Source campaign is organizing programs to increase funding for many institutions, including:

  • employment programs
  • career counseling
  • high quality child care

Establishing certain policies can help people pay for their:

  • food
  • housing
  • healthcare
  • education

Learn more about health insurance here.

Access to quality education

DataTrusted Source from the U.S. and Europe show a strong association between health indicators and an individual’s income and education level.

Whether a child or adolescent can access quality education throughout their development can determine their future living conditions.

Early childhood education is essentialTrusted Source for social and mental development, and good quality high school education can open new doors to further education and employment opportunities.

Children that come from low income households, have disabilities, or experience social discrimination at an early age may be less likely to do well in school. They also face barriers to higher levels of education.

As a result, people from low income households often struggle to get safe, well-paying jobs. It also means they are more likely to experience health conditions such as heart diseasediabetes, or depression.

The stress of having economic difficulties can also adversely impact a person’s health and well-being. For example, living in poverty can negatively affect a child’s brain development.

Improving access to education

The funding of Title I schools in the U.S. has encouraged continued education among those living in low income communities.

The Health People 2030Trusted Source campaign has several programs in place to improve the proportion of people who have access to high quality education across all age groups.

Community environment

Interactions between individuals and their family members and co-workers can affectTrusted Source their health.

For example, workplace conditions and discrimination can have an impact on peoples’ moods and self-esteem.

Moreover, high incarceration rates, absent parents, and bullying can all affect a child’s development and feelings of loneliness. This negative effect on a child’s health can continue into their adulthood.

Learn about the effects of racism on mental health here.

Improving community environment

Many social determinants of health are factors that people cannot control individually. Fostering positive relationships at home, at work, or in a person’s community can improve public well-being.

Programs that can better people’s social determinants of health include the social campaigns on the implementation of smoke-free zones that curbed tobacco use and decreased smoking-related disease.

The Healthy People 2030Trusted Source campaign aims to help people get the social support and care they might need.

For example, it is working to reduce anxiety and depression by providing more support to children and those caring for people with disabilities, among other groups.