Social Determinants of Health

Dr. Jennifer Bracey

August 11, 2022

Global Health

Social determinants of health are factors that contribute to good health and can be categorized as influencers or predictors. However, these factors are not necessarily causal and can change throughout life. For example, in the US, economic stability is one determinant of health. Other social determinants of health include education, work conditions, and stress. Below, we’ll look at each of these factors.

Economic stability

According to the World Health Organization, social determinants of health are the factors that influence the health of individuals and communities. In a recent study, more than 1,200 American adults were asked to rate the importance of social determinants of health. Thirty percent said economic stability was the most important determinant, followed by access to quality health care and educational opportunities. Nearly two dollars were spent on social services for every dollar spent on healthcare, while only 55 cents of every healthcare dollar is spent on social services.

Another social determinant of health is housing. It is a well-known fact that housing is directly related to financial well-being, and a lack of adequate housing for low-income individuals can lead to poor health. Discrimination in housing is a particularly egregious factor, especially for people of color. In addition to housing, economic instability affects employment. Whether a person has a stable job or not, insecure employment can have a profound effect on health.


In the United States, education is one of the most significant determinants of health, economic viability, and the ability to work. However, it is important to note that other social determinants, such as housing, employment, food security, and access to health care, are also significant in determining whether a child graduates from high school on time. These factors, as well as barriers to individual achievement, should be considered in evaluating the progress of educational policies in the country.

Higher educational attainment has also been linked to improved health outcomes. In general, individuals with higher educational attainment have lower incidences of long-term illnesses, poor health reports, and mental disorders. Moreover, individuals with higher levels of education also experience lower unemployment rates. High unemployment rates have been associated with worse health and higher mortality. Furthermore, education has been linked to improved mental and physical well-being, as people with higher educational attainment are more likely to be employed and have access to resources that can help them achieve this goal.


Stress affects everyone in different ways, and for some it can be a source of physical health problems. In some urban communities, an insecure living environment is particularly damaging to long-term residents, and new developments near slums can also create stress. In some cases, residents feel discriminated against and may experience other adverse consequences. Furthermore, socially unwelcoming settings can also cause stress, such as those where illicit activity takes place.

This study examined the perceptions of residents of a multiethnic district of Sri Lanka. Participants represented all social strata in the community. The study method involved focus groups, which provided an opportunity for participants to freely express their thoughts and feelings. The results of the study can be generalized to other countries in the region. It is important to understand the underlying social determinants of health to understand what preventive measures are needed to address the problem.

Work conditions

The study’s authors emphasized the importance of considering these factors, which often influence people’s health more so than health care or lifestyle choices. The social determinants of health can affect health in many ways, ranging from economic factors to cultural differences. In some cases, these factors may even have a greater impact on a person’s health than the medical or health care industry itself. Regardless of the cause, addressing social determinants of health will improve population health and reduce long-standing health inequities.

Although many of these factors influence health in positive or negative ways, these factors are often the first things that a person can address. For example, poverty, discrimination, and a lack of access to health care can negatively affect a person’s health, while a healthy environment or educational opportunities can improve it. There is no single factor that can directly influence a person’s health, but addressing these factors is vital for achieving optimal health. Unfortunately, the relationship between social determinants and health problems is complex and difficult to establish.