The Institute of Medicine defines The Ecological Model as “a model of health that emphasizes the linkages and relationships among multiple factors (or determinants) affecting health.” Within this model, there are several different levels: social, community, institutional, interpersonal, and individual.
When looking deeper into the health care system, it is evident that health disparities exist. One example of a health care disparity is that low-income individuals receive poorer quality care and experience worse health outcomes. This fits into the Social Ecological Model because initially, an individual experiences poor care or even has an outcome as severe as death. After this happens, it spreads to the interpersonal level where the family of the individual is experiencing similar outcomes. It goes a step further when it is seen in the institutional level.
Sadly, this disparity exists against the socio-economically challenged because in our society those who have the most generally do not need the most. Furthermore, society may view those who are not very wealthy as less important and in result, the disparity is formed.
There are many interventions that can be/are done to help reduce the magnitude of health disparities against the socio-economically challenged. One is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) which started an initiative called “Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change to encourage, evaluate, and disseminate new interventions to reduce disparities” (www.solvingdisparities.org). RWJF acts on the community/social level of the SEM and it is now in its fourth year.