The determinants of health

The determinants of health2018-10-20T10:56:01+10:00

The determinants of health fall under the following categories of factors: individual, socioeconomic, sociocultural, and environmental. The determinants of health influence the health of all individuals and combine together to affect a person’s health either positively or negatively.

The dot point: the determinants of health, is the foundational knowledge that must be grasped in order for you to get a good understanding of the degree of control individuals can exert over their health and how health is a social construct. So make sure you put in extra effort to understand this content.

Within each determinant of health category their are various influences on an individual’s health. The syllabus requires that you can analyse how these factors combine to affect an individuals health. That is, how they can multiply the likelihood of an individuals health being positive or negative.

For example, if an individual has a high level of education, has a high income, lives in a city with access to the best health facilities, was raised in a family that valued health and promoted a holistic approach to health, and was taught the skills required to research and improve their health and the health of others, such a person has a much higher likelihood of being healthy, than a person who comes from a low socioeconomic background, dropped out of school in year 8 and was raised in a family that valued rick taking. Such a person is more likely to be unhealthy, especially if they also have poor access to health facilities or are blocked form accessing health information because of language or cultural barriers.

The WHO defines the social determinants of health as conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels, which are themselves influenced by policy choices. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities-the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries (WHO 2011). [1]

The syllabus for the determinants of health states:

Students learn about:

  • the determinants of health
    • individual factors, eg knowledge and skills, attitudes, genetics
    • sociocultural factors, eg family, peers, media, religion, culture
    • socioeconomic factors, eg employment, education, income
    • environmental factors, eg geographical location, access to health services and technology

Students learn to:

  • analyse how an individual’s health can be determined by a range of factors acting in various combinations

Practice Questions

Describe the determinants of health providing an example for each.     4 marks

How is health affected by the determinants of health?    6 marks

Provide a detailed example that clearly shows how a combination of the determinants of health can affect an individuals health.    6 marks

Provide examples of sociocultural factors that may influence health.    3 marks