Social determinants of health

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Health starts in our homes, workplaces, schools and communities. Most of us may think that the state of health is determined by our own behaviors and we are taking the initiatives in taking care of ourselves. By having a balanced diet, getting enough rest, exercising, not taking alcohols and smoking, receiving recommendation of preventive vaccine injection and screening tests, and seeing a doctor when we are sick, these behaviors all have great impact on our health. However, social determinants which are mostly responsible for health inequalities are also involved in influencing our state of health partly.
Social determinants of health are the general socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions in which people are born, grow, live, learn, work and age that influence the current state of health of people and communities. These conditions are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources that people have. According to the Healthy people 2020 Approach, a “place-based” organizing framework stated that there are five areas of social determinants of health, including economic stability, education, social and community context, health and health care and neighborhood and built environment. There are lots of social determinants affecting our health. For instance, social gradients, stress, early life, social exclusion, work and unemployment, social support, addiction, healthy food and transport are social determinants examples provided by the World Health Organization. (World Health Organization, 2003)
Firstly, the social gradients affect the life expectancy and health status of a person.
According to the data from the Office for National Statistics, professionals such as lawyers and accountants usually have longer life expectancy than the unskilled workers such as road workers and cleaners. As poor economic and social circumstances affect health throughout life, people down the social ladder usually die sooner and tend to have worse health.

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