I remember when I was in 5th to like 6th grade my family doctor was this really tall Indian man. He was hilarious, and always referred to my dad as daddy. It made me laugh because I was in 6th grade and here was this man referring to another man as daddy. “If you have those sick feelings again always let daddy know.” Aside from that, I think that health center in general was decent for my family’s social identity. We are a very low income Mexican family.
This clinic was in the westside of Grand Rapids, where a lot of other Mexican and of other latino ethnicities would generally live (because it was low income as well). It wasn’t pleasant, to be honest I don’t think I will ever have a “pleasant” experience, the doctors always freak me out. But it kind of felt like “hey, we are all in the same boat together.” All us kids of these immigrated parents always had to have a translator and sometimes tried to be that translator. So I think that unifying social identity of a latino ethnicity made it alright for all families involved. Mom’s would always recognize each other and talk about the latest “chisme” (look it up), and the dads would talk about the Cruz Azul v. Club America soccer game, or something like that.
And that social identity, I think, very positively impacted those health trips. Because human connection is very important. Especially when you’re all in a country where you can constantly be scared and belittled. So it’s good to be there together. It made a stressful, long, and scary experience, into just a tiny bit less stressful, long, and scary experience.
Shout out to the Hispanic community of Grand Rapids! What are some unifying communities, in the area you come from, that maybe helped make a stressful situation a little less stressful for you or your family?
When most people hear the word health, I’m sure the first words associated would be hospital or doctor. As we learned in class, however, there are so many other factors that contribute to our overall health. The social determinants of health are just as important as being treated as a hospital. Some of the social determinants we learned about in health include education and biology/genes.
Education has always been stressed in my family. As a daughter of U of M alumni, my parents have always taught me and my sisters that the world is much more open in terms of opportunities afforded to you with a higher education. Being a part of the working-class community, my parents can provide our family with health insurance that allows us to get both necessary and elective health benefits. Along with access to health insurance, education has also my family to practice healthier behaviors. Looking at other family members who do not have college degrees, I can visibly tell the difference in health practices, such as homemade meals versus fast food almost every day. Because with higher education comes a higher income bracket, my parents are often the people they go to when they need something. I guess one bright side of my parents being the high-income earners in the family is that our house is usually the go-to house for events and celebrations.
A social determinant that affects me negatively would be the biology structure of my family. My dad’s side of the family is prone to high cholesterol and heart disease. In 2004, my dad, unfortunately, suffered a mild heart attack. As a result, my family now must take extra precautions when to choose what to eat and I get my cholesterol checked more often than others.
What do you guys think is the most prominent, or biggest social determinant affecting this generation?
As we learned this week our unique social identities shape our health in numerous ways. One of my identities that may positively shape my health is my race. As a Caucasian in this country the truth, however horrific, is that I have privilege. Racism has been prevalent in our nation since its founding. Discrimination of minorities still rages on through many aspects of life. Although we would expect healthcare providers and practitioners to be bias free and treat everyone equally, this is not the case. Whites often receive better quality of treatment than those belonging to other racial and ethnic groups. An example of this is the fact that Caucasians receive more pain relievers than other races do.
An identity of mine that may have an adverse effect on my health is my socioeconomic status. As a family in the lower- middle class we have had our share of struggles: waiting to see if going to the doctor is really necessary, refusing prescriptions that come with a high cost, deciding if expensive dental care is really worth it or if it can wait, trying to find medicines or treatments for my dad’s psoriasis that won’t break the bank, and many others. Living with a lower SES can be difficult and may result in poorer health due to the fact that it is harder to access healthcare.
I always knew that different factors could lead to a different quality of health, but I never thought of it as a universal problem, I always thought it was something that was more prevalent in third world countries. I thought that if my health care was affected, it was because it was based on the doctors and nurses that were treating me, I never thought it could be caused by my own identity.
I have always been raised in an upper-middle class environment; although my dad is the only financial provider in my family, we have always been well off. My socioeconomic status has positively impacted my health care. My mom has always stocked the house with healthy food, I had access to a gym and played on school teams, and whenever I was hurt, I’d always go to the hospital because we had health insurance.
The fact that I am a minority and a woman, however, can negatively impact my health care. I still remember the time when I broke my ankle when I was younger. I was outside playing football with my brother and his friends when I twisted my ankle in a ditch. I tried walking after getting up, but it hurt too much so I began limping to the house. My brother, his friends, and even my dad thought that it wasn’t a big deal and I was just being weak. The only person who believed me was my mom and she took me to the hospital where we found out I fractured it. Women are sometimes perceived as weak by others and their pain sometimes isn’t taken as seriously as a result.
My question for everyone is do you guys think it’s possible for social determinants to ever go away or are they inevitable because of human nature?
We know that taking care of our bodies physically and mentally by exercise, eating well, etc., is a way that influences our health. Health goes beyond that. There are many more aspects that feed into our health. For example, the community we live in, social disparities we could possibly be exposed to, economic opportunities, and our personal relationships have an impact on our health also. The socio-ecological model consists of individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy. A social identity that positively impacts my health would be my social support which includes my friends, family, coworkers etc. My positive social identity belongs under the interpersonal category of the socio-ecological model. When my mental health is not at it’s best, my friends and family are who help and support me through rough times. I believe mental health is just as important as physical health so that’s why I chose it as what has the most positive impact on my health. The social identity that negatively impacts my health would be my gender. There are many health disparities from being a female. For example, before the ACA, women had to pay more for health insurance, and now that Trump plans to repeal the ACA, this disparity will come to the surface again. I want to finish with a question asking, how do you think we can overcome negative social determinants?
Social identities have a bigger impact on our health than we realize. Before attending U of M, I just assumed that everyone got treated the same when it comes to health care; a broken arm is a broken arm right? Well that is definitely how it should be, but sadly that is not accurate. Sometimes your social identity affects the quality of health care you receive, and a lot of it is done unintentionally. In discussion we discussed how gender is one of the social determinants of health, and I can definitely testify for that. I feel as though being a female sometimes is a disadvantage because as a sex we are stereotypically looked at as more fragile and (as much as I disagree) a wuss when it comes to pain (yet we somehow manage to push a CHILD out of our UTERUSES??). I have had terrible pain in my legs when I run which is terribly inconvenient seen how in high school I was a runner, and still to this day it continues. My coaches and trainer at my high school would just tell me to run through it, that it was nothing. When I begged my parents to take me to the doctor they just tossed it aside and said it was probably nothing. Well after a year I ended up going to the doctor, whom multiple times said I prob just had weak muscles but I knew something was wrong. I ended up having deep muscle tearing in both my legs and now I may have trouble ever being able to run without pain again which could have been prevented if everyone would have just taken me seriously to begin with. That is just a specific example of how gender has affected me personally. A social identity that I think I have an advantage with is probably the fact that I am caucasian just because data shows that overall that race tends to have the best quality of health care, which is very wrong and should not be a determinant in what type of care you receive. My questions for you guys are how much do you think these social determinants affect health care as a whole? What are some examples where you guys feel that you have an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to social determinants in health care? Do you think that there is a way to change this?
Before the lecture last week, I did not realize how many factors can affect your health. I thought the main way you could be healthy was to eat your fruits and vegetables and exercise, but in reality there are way more factors. Being aware of my intersectionality, I can find the ways my social identities affect my health.
My parents were refugees from the communist regime in Vietnam so they came to this country with no money. I grew up with very low income so I could only eat what my parents could afford and that usually consisted of fast food. My family’s lack of money very often negatively affected my heath. My parents could not afford to take me to the doctor’s every time I was sick and I was sick often. My family is financially better now but going to the doctor’s is still kind of foreign to me.
Being a full time student is like my job right now so I think UMich is a social determinant. Here at the University of Michigan, our tuition pays for healthcare so we can use it for STI testing or psychiatric help. At UHS I got some blood work done and it was “free” because my tuition payed for it. Students here at UMich also have access to the CCRB. There are numerous resources here that the university offers that can help us with not just our physical health but our mental health. I also went to one of the flu shot clinics that the university offers.
There are many social determinants that can negatively affect our health. It is sad that we can not change some of these things or they are hard to change, such as I can’t change my race or change my socioeconomic status.
I grew up in an upper-middle-class family in the city of Ann Arbor. There was always good-quality food on the table and regular visits to healthcare providers. I’ve been healthy my entire life, with very few incidents of bad health. Since I lived in a suburban area, the air was clean, so I never acquired a respiratory disorder. My family also encouraged my brothers and I to do sports and exercise regularly. Therefore, my socioeconomic status and family upbringing didn’t harm my health. My other identities also haven’t harmed my health either. I’m a white, heterosexual, cisgender male, so I’m not negatively affected by the health situations and outcomes associated with race, gender, sex, or sexuality. To be honest, none of my identities have hurt my health in any way. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me gloating or trying to sound elitist. I’m extremely grateful for the situation I was born into and continue to live in.
Growing up as a kid from a middle class family in the city of Ann Arbor, I really didn’t understand the privileged nature 0f my upbringing. With my mom having health insurance through working at the university, healthcare was always readily available to me growing up. My identity of being relatively privileged in my childhood had a positive impact on on my health in the sense that attaining healthcare was never really an issue for me. I can’t really think of any negative impact my identities have had on me, but I have experienced negative impacts by identity through experiences in healthcare with my parents.
My personal identities have had mainly positive impacts on my health, but the same can not be said for my parents. As they are first generation immigrants and are not fluent in English, It is difficult for them to communicate with healthcare providers at times. The availability of translators does help, but there still seems to be a gap in their communication and connection with their physicians. My hope is that one day to aid in bridging this gap between physician and patients from different cultures/ languages. With my identity of being bilingual, and my first hand experiences dealing with the inequities of the healthcare system when it comes to serving minority patients, I hope to have a positive impact on healthcare for such groups.
Now I ask you, what impacts have any of your identities had on your health? What would you change about the healthcare system today to remedy the inequities in healthcare?
As we learned in class, there are different factors of social determinants that can affect our health in many different ways. Some include education, socioeconomic status, physical environment, personal behaviors, employment, etc. Although some of these factors have not directly influence my health, they have influenced some of my family members. For me, education and socioeconomic status has had both a positive and negative impact on my family.
My parents were both first generation college students from their side of the family. They both value education and ingrained the same mindset, or behavior, into me. My parents were able to break away from their family’s cycle and gain a higher education to benefit them in the future. Earning a higher education allowed them to move our family to a more thriving environment. I feel that education and socioeconomic status played a heavy role in my life. My parents are knowledgeable about health and they make sure my sister and I are knowledgeable as well. They make sure we go to the doctor’s for yearly check-up, dentist office, and they make sure they we have a healthy, balanced diet. They made sure we have health insurance.
I could say that these things are simple, minimal needs, but that would be ungrateful. Most of my uncles, aunts, and cousins do not have the “simple, minimal needs” I have. Their social determinants, specifically education and socioeconomic status, play a negative role in their lives. Some can barely afford health insurance because of their socioeconomic status. The one that can afford health insurance, don’t go to the hospital if necessary because they health literacy or education as a whole. From my point of view, some of my extended family do not go to hospitals because they are intimated by doctors. My grandparents feel uncomfortable without my father, or my sister and I, in the hospital with them because they lack education. I feel that since my immediate family had the opportunity to gain a higher education and move up in socioeconomic status, it has put somewhat of a dent in the relationship between some of our extended family members and my family. Family is family and it shouldn’t negatively impact our relationship; but unfortunately, it does.