“The health of individuals is largely due to the social environment they inhabit”.

Topics: Sociology, Population health, Indigenous Australians Pages: 6 (1735 words) Published: September 25, 2013
There are many factors that influence both positively and negatively to a person’s environment such as social, economical, employment, education, ethnicity, gender, age and location. Many of these characteristics are linked and throughout my research in this essay, I will focus on education, employment and social support and examine the detrimental effects these three factors have on one’s health due to the particular environment they inhabit within these determinates. “Empirical studies of populations based on these categories form the basis for socioeconomic analysis, as they demonstrate the extent to which structural inequalities exist in any society” (Carson et al., 2007, p. 88). In addition, we investigate the substantial impact these three factors have on the state of health of the aboriginal population of Australia.

Health and illness are of great social importance to ourselves, our family and the community as a whole. The state of one’s health can have a big impact on the economy through loss of productivity and costs involved with maintaining health or illness (Woods, 2009). When studying health and illness, “people are not merely biological beings, they are also psychological and social creatures, and state of health is affected by all three aspects” (Weiss et al., 2009, p. 113). Therefore, it is important to analyze these determinates in order to convey how simple everyday issues in a person’s life impacts on their well being and influences their family and community. In saying that, the research in this essay aims to illustrate that health professionals should not just focus on the clinical medicine diagnoses to promote good health but go beyond this by exploring the underlying social conditions within one’s unique environment.

The educational qualification a person has obtained plays a large role in determining life’s pathway. From early childhood, if you are provided with all the basic material needs, your mental and physical health is more likely to thrive, than a child growing up with few choices and not have their basic needs met. This is where education intervenes by influencing the child’s self-confidence and impacting on their interaction with their environment (Macdonald, 2005). It has been well documented that educated people are more likely to be employed full-time in a gratifying job, to have a good income with little economic hardship, to have higher levels of social support and to be healthier through eating nutritious food and making positive behavioral choices in regards to smoking, alcohol and drug consumption (Weiss, et al., 2009). While people that are less educated are at greater risk of chronic disease and dying prematurely (Bouchard et al, 2007). For example, one study in Canada revealed that people with more than 12 years of education are less likely to suffer health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or to be overweight (Macdonald, 2005).

In particular, employment status is closely linked to education, as your education level can determine whether a person, firstly, can gain employment in a competitive market and then may govern the grade of income they can receive due to their knowledge and the hazards involved with their profession. When examining at the working conditions of laborers between 1998-2000, they had 104% more people die within these industries than people employed in managerial or administrative roles, due to occupational illness and injury (Baum, 2008), this shows the significant impact that work environment has on health. On the other hand, ‘The National Health Survey’ reported that the unemployed were more likely to suffer from mental and behavioral problems and were more likely to smoke, have a poorer diet and be obese (Baum, 2008). In contrast to this, there is now evidence that “…psychosocial factors at work influence risk of physical and mental illness and may play a role in contributing to the social gradient in ill health” (Marmot et...

References: Baum, F. (2008). Patterns of Health Inequities in Australia [Chapter 12]. In Baum, F. (3rd Ed.) The new public health (pp. 246-270). South Melbourne, VIC.: Oxford University Press.
Baum, F
Bouchard, C., Blair, S.N. and Haskell, W.H. (2007). Physical activity and health. Champaign IL, USA: Human Kinetics.
Carson, B., Dunbar, T., Chenhall, R.D., and Bailie, R. (Eds.). (2007). Social determinants of indigenous health. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen and Unwin.
Keleher, H. and MacDougall, C., (2009). Understanding Health: A Determinants Approach (2nd Ed.). South Melbourne, VIC.: Oxford University Press.
Macdonald, J.J. (2005). Environments for health: A salutogenic approach. London: Earthscan.
Marmot, M
Merchant, J. (2007). Social inequalities, Social exclusion and health [Chapter 16]. In Merchant, J., Griffin, B.L. and Charnock, A. sport and physical activity the role of health promotion (pp. 223-247). New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.
Woods, M. (2009, February 23rd) Dynamics of health. Unpublished Lecture, Studying Health- Key Concepts and Glossary in Health. Penrith: University of Western Sydney.
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