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Social determinants of health

This paper presents a discussion of the social determinants of health focusing on their contribution to the development of diseases.

Discuss the social determinants of health. What are they and how do they contribute to the development of disease? Describe the chain of infection. What are some ways community health nurses can break this chain? Provide specific examples.

Your initial posting should be at least 400 words in length and utilize at least one scholarly source other than the textbook

The social determinants of health 

The Social determinants of health include Lifestyle, poverty, disability, employment and level of education of an individual.

Lifestyle is the first Social determinants of health. The kind of life lived by an individual has a significant impact on the number of years that the person is expected to live. In both India and New Zealand, lifestyle is considered the most vital factors that influence life expectancy. According to Loef and Walach (2012) the sources of food for the population, the methods of their preparation and the amount consumed influence the life expectancy that they can report at a given age. Individuals under a good nutrition plan are likely to have a higher life expectancy (Li, Hüsing & Kaaks, 2014). Moreover, non-smokers, those who engaged in physical activities and consumption of moderate amounts of caffeine all lead to an enhanced life expectancy (Preston et al., 2014; Martikainen et al., 2014). In New Zealand for instance, those who have healthy lifestyles and a good socio-economic status at the age of 50 years are expected to have a life expectancy of 80 years and above. It is also reported that non-smokers in Indians are likely to have a longer life span than those who smoke (Buckley et al., 2013). The lifestyle of an individual, therefore, has a significant influence on the life expectancy of the individual.

Poverty is recognized as the second social determinants of health. According to Mathers et al (2015), people who are living in poverty have higher rates of injury, disability and worse self-reported health that lowers their life expectancy. Poverty also translates to a lower level of income thus one is unable to take care of her or his basic needs. It is also observed that poverty causes the social exclusion of people. Poverty excludes individuals from participating materially or socially in community activities, making the people unable to access most of the social amenities offered within the community. The lower level of income and a higher risk of being unhealthy that is associated with poverty make it set back life expectancy. People living in poverty are likely to have a lower life expectancy in comparison with the rich.
Employment is the third Social determinants of health. The major determinant of an adequate and steady income is paid employment. Apart from providing income to individuals, employment enhances the social esteem and status of a person within society. Moreover, those who are employed are likely to participate fully in different community activities (Avendano & Kawachi, 2014). Significant evidence has also suggested that unemployment is detrimental to one’s health. The depressions developed as a result of unemployment as well as the problems encountered by those who are unemployed exposes them to a higher risk of both physical and mental illness (Tucker-Drob & Briley, 2014). As such, employment is the Social determinants of health. Those who are employed are likely to have a higher and steady income, and a peaceful mind thus a higher value of life expectancy. The reverse holds, for the unemployed population in both India and New Zealand.
Level of Education is the fourth Social determinants of health. Along with employment status, education is also a vital determinant of the economic and social position of an individual. People with higher levels of education are likely to have a higher status in the society. These individuals are equally likely to have good occupation and be employed thus an increase in their level of income. Avendano and Kawachi (2014) have also pointed out that educated persons are likely to make sound decisions in life, such as proper diet, disengaging in criminal activities hence improving their physical and social health. Previous studies have indicated that those with lower levels of education or school drop-outs are likely to encounter poor social circumstances in their early life exposing them to the risk of diseases and even death (Tucker-Drob & Briley, 2014). When a population consists of highly educated individuals, its value of life expectancy will be higher. The major difference observed in life expectancy amongst various communities in India and New Zealand is mainly attributed to education levels. Communities, where majority of the population are learned, are likely to report a higher life expectancy value than in areas where illiteracy is paramount (Singh & Siahpush, 2014).
Social Support and Social Cohesion is another Social determinants of health. Social cohesion and social support refer to the degree to which individuals within a society are connected and participate in a secure environment. It is evident that the level of cohesion within a community is related to life expectancy (Wrzus et al., 2013). In a highly cohesive society, people focus on a common goal, diversity is accepted in such communities but it does not lead to conflicts. Strong ties to the family, right social networks and proper housing and social support are observed in communities with high social cohesion. As Yang et al (2016) point out, individuals living in communities with high social cohesion are likely to have good health and peace that contributes positively to a higher value of life expectancy. People living in socially cohesive communities and receives a good level of social support have a greater value of life expectancy than socially isolated individuals.
Disability is also considered as a social determinants of health. Disabled persons have a lower life expectancy in comparison with those who are healthy. People with disabilities have limitations in various daily activities. Moreover, these individuals are socioeconomically challenged since they cannot participate in most of the activities either for social interaction with others or for economic gains (National Advisory Committee on Health and Disability, 1998)s. Disabled persons are also likely to be employed thus lowering their level of income. As much as there are strategies put in place to cater for the persons with disabilities in both New Zealand and India, most of the disables are still prone to ill health and poor living conditions that lower their life expectancy. Disability is, therefore, a significant factor that influences the life expectancy of a given population.