Social Determinants of Health

Shi and Singh (2011) define social determinants of health as non-medical factors that affect both the average and distribution of health within populations. The Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH, 2005) affirms that the choice of policies globally and in individual countries not only influence the allocation of money and resources; but also the distribution of power. The implementation of these policies trickles down up to the local level. Social health determinants lead to health inequities commonly observed in all societies. Such determinants influence the chances of contracting diseases. Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) model affirms that social gradient, stress, early life, social exclusion, work, unemployment, addiction, food and transport as the social determinants of health.

According to the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA, 2005), nurses need to appreciate the extraordinary importance of these factors especially of the patients and other groups they handle; and include these factors in their assessments. The Nursing profession usually subject nurses to the frontline of the healthcare systems. Therefore, nurses encounter the impacts of these issues daily (CAN, 2005). Having and an in depth understanding of these issues enable nurses to understand their patients and the groups they work with in a better way. This will assist them offer patients the best management in relation to the prevailing health determinant issue. An in depth understanding of this issue will also enable nurses formulate and propose policies that can improve healthcare delivery (CAN, 2005).

The provision of quality healthcare services requires the availability of critical resources within the community. Such resources should be easily accessible and affordable to all regardless of the financial, social class, race/ethnic, religion, educational, gender or age affiliations of the individuals. In addition to other vital community healthcare resources, X-ray, Ultrasonography and Medical Laboratory form the centre stage of medical diagnostics. Without diagnostics, the medical practice becomes paralyzed. Medical Laboratory offers a wide array of blood analyses that are crucial in the screening of almost all diseases. On the other hand, X-ray and Ultrasonography techniques elaborate on the internal medical situation of patients, assisting healthcare providers in the management of their patients. These resources offer exceptional support to patients and healthcare providers, thus; they should be located in one place. Analyses generated from these techniques provide useful data used in the prevention, treatment or management of patients depending on their clinical situations. Timely diagnosis of any disease has considerable significance and could lead to a significant reduction in the avoidance of some mortalities or delay of others.

These resources need to be affordable, easily accessible and offer timely results. In so doing, these resources significantly assist patients who might otherwise fail to meet their medical expectations due to in-availability, inaccessibility or in-affordability of the services offered by the above resources. In addition, the resources need to offer quality services that meet the set standards. Families will be able to reduce the heavy medical costs they would have otherwise incurred and channel their resources into development projects.

Most strategies aimed at addressing this problem usually try to convince healthcare systems not only to allow for better access; but also ensure inclusiveness and high standards (Williams et al., 2008). However, in order to reduce socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities, stakeholders should address the social determinants of health within and outside the healthcare system (Williams et al., 2008). Since nurses frequently encounter the challenges generated by social determinants of health, it is paramount for them to appreciate the importance of this issue. This will equip them with the necessary skills to handle challenges in their field. Nurses play a critical role in society. Thus, they get the chance to propose strategies for solving several challenges including the provision of healthcare resources that are affordable and accessible to all.


Canadian Nurses Association. (2005). Social Determinants of Health: A Summery of the Issues. Web.

Wilkinson, Richard and Marmot, Michael. (2003). Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts. Geneva: WHO.

Shi, L. and Singh, D. (2011). The Nation’s Health. Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Williams, D. et al. (2008). Moving Upstream: How Interventions that Address the Social Determinants of HealthCan Improve Health and Reducs Desparities. Journal of Public Health Mnagement and Practice , 14(6), S8-S17. Web.

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