Social Determinants and Effects on Health

Social determinants of health are the circumstances people are born, live, grow or work in, inclusive of the health situations. The circumstances are influenced by factors such as the availability of financial resources, power, and resources at local, national, and global levels. These factors are determined by the policies in place. Social determinants of health give rise to health inequities which are the unfair disparities in health statuses within countries (Wilkinson, 2003). There are different social determinants of health that affect the health conditions of individuals.

The first social determinant of health is the presence of adequate resources necessary to meet the daily needs of life. Individuals require certain basic resources in their lives which are important in determining their health. Some examples of such resources include safe shelter and food markets where individuals can obtain food locally. Lack of appropriate housing or the right types of foods affects health negatively. On the other hand, the availability of vital resources contributes to good health.

The second social determinant of health is access to health care services. Health care provision is a basic need for human beings. However, not all people have access to health care services. Many reasons explain why some societies lack access to appropriate health care services among them poor infrastructure, marginalization, and high poverty levels. Access to health care services is a critical social determinant of health because depending on whether people have access to the services or not, their health is affected either positively or negatively (Social Determinants of Health, 2012).

The third social determinant of health is the social norms and attitudes of different communities. Societies are characterized by different cultural norms some of which affect their attitudes towards health issues. This acts as an important social determinant of health. For instance, some cultures bar their members from accessing health services from health institutions while others believe in herbal or traditional forms of health interventions. In addition, societal attitudes such as racism determine the health of its people. Individuals may receive varying health services based on their race in some societies. Discrimination may also prevent individuals from accessing health services where some are given priority. Such factors are important social determinants of health.

The fourth social determinant of health is the quality of education and job training. Education is very crucial in the provision of health services. Individuals with quality education can access quality health services as opposed to those who lack sound education. Education is also important in that it enables individuals to acquire knowledge on how to maintain and improve their health. In addition to quality education, job training enables individuals to secure sustainable jobs which enable them to meet their health needs. A society that is characterized by individuals who lack quality education and sustainable jobs faces numerous health challenges (Social Determinants of Health, 2010).

The fifth social determinant of health is access to media channels and emerging technologies such as the internet, mobile phones, and social networking media. The media is a crucial element towards the provision of quality health care services to communities. Through media channels such as Television, radio, and the internet, individuals can get important information related to health issues. Other emerging technologies like mobile phones and the internet make it possible for important health information to be accessed and shared easily. Access to media channels is, therefore, an important social determinant of health.


Social Determinants of Health. (2010). Web.

Social Determinants of Health. (2012). Web.

Wilkinson, R. (2003). Social Determinants of Health:the Solid Facts. New York: World Health Organization.

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