Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health

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?

8 thoughts on “Social Determinants of Health

  1. Unfortunately, I think that social determinants affect health care greatly. It is so troubling that simply because of the situation someone is born into, health care can be inefficient or excluding of that person. Social determinants of health simply presents a microcosm of all the bigger issues in the country today. Racism, mysogyny, homophobia, income inequalities, and countless other discriminatory “-isms” are all issues facing the U.S. today. These are all similarly reflected in the health field which creates these social determinants of health. There are very large steps that the country must take to solve this issue and I believe it will take a very long time. Hopefully, as we learn about these issues, we can work to ensure that at the very least we will not exhibit the same biases that medicine does today.

  2. I think social determinants are one of the biggest factors that healthcare encounters. As it is currently, people are extremely intersectional. We all possess so many identities within ourselves that it is almost impossible to not consider them when discussing health.

    After reading about Trump’s plan to not provide health insurance, I am becoming more cognizant of my citizenship. I grew up in a big city and most of the people I know have citizenship in the US. The more I think about it, being a citizen gives me the privilege of benefitting from many insurance plans and coverage through the government. I don’t have to worry about anyone in my family not being covered under changes to the ACA either. In this sense being a citizen positively impacts my health.

    On the other end of the spectrum, my family has a very low SES. My mom is disabled and hasn’t worked for over 10 years. Since she is also an American citizen, she receives Medicaid insurance coverage. Growing up, it was nice to have the security of Medicaid to fall back on, but as I grow older I see all the ways it disadvantages my family. Medicaid only covers certain procedures, and at certain times important things aren’t covered. I remember when I was in elementary school my brother and I couldn’t afford to go to the dentist because cuts to the program stopped paying for it. I have always suffered from back pain, but Chiropractors are sometimes considered elective procedures so I rarely am able to go to the extent that I need to live comfortably.

    I possess many other identities that affect my health, but these two are the ones that I find most prominent. Regarding your question about changing these issues, I think people should try to understand that everyone deserves to be healthy. People can’t live their best lives if they’re sick constantly or if they are living with chronic pain. I think it is unjust to deny healthcare to anyone, and that certain people have better treatment than others. I hope to see steps towards making the inequalities that exist in the health world less drastic.

  3. I totally feel like I understand where you’re coming from with the story about deep tissue muscle injuries. When I was a little kid, I was a little wimp. Since my parents believed this, one day I hurt my wrist at a friend’s house. I complained a lot after my mom took me home. I told my mom I thought something was wrong. My mom told me to “toughen up”. I battled through it and went to tennis practice for a week even though it was really painful. At the end of the week my complaining convinced my mom to take me to the doctor. I got x-rays and found out I had fractured my wrist. Even my mom who loves me was unable to avoid bias in a situation where clearly I was hurt. I believe that doctors can suffer from the bias of there preconceived beliefs as well. I do believe that there’s a belief in the general population that women are wimpier. I’ve actually heard of a study before that says women have higher pain tolerance on average. I don’t really believe there can be a standardized way to measure pain because pain is subjective. Unfortunately, standardized pain measurement would be the only way to take bias out of pain treatment prescriptions. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to solve this problem. We just ought to better educate doctors on biases so they can be more aware.

  4. To present a different perspective, I want to share my experience with social determinants of health in Lebanon. When I was in fifth grade, I fell down and cut my cheek on the corner of a table. When my mom drove me to the hospital, they would not start stitching until the insurance and fees were worked out. Socioeconomic status is a huge determinant over there. If you cannot pay, some hospitals might let you die in the waiting room. It is extremely disheartening and disgusting that money plays such a huge role in a person’s health.

  5. Social determinants have a huge impact on healthcare whether we would like to admit it or not. I feel both advantaged and disadvantaged being a white patient. Doctors are more apt to prescribe opioids to a white patient, therefore I have a higher chance of developing an addiction, but at least my pain will get managed. I think that doctors need to become more aware of their biases, conscious or unconscious, and work on dissolving them to look at every patient fairly.

  6. I think how much social determinants affect health care depends greatly on the individual case. Since unconscious (or not) bias varies depending on the individual it will affect various medical institutions differently. I believe the best way to combat this discrimination is to encourage interaction between different types of people, so that people can develop connections with many types of people.

  7. Social determinants in the healthcare field are something that is evident in the community, but more difficult to put an end to than it seems. I say this because as bad as it sounds to have this type of thing occurring in such an important field, I think most of us can agree that none of it is intentional. Even that story we heard about the transgender person who had uterus problems and wasn’t helped tie it was too late wasn’t intentional or even completely neglected because the doctor simply didn’t know what to do because he/she had not experienced this situation before. I do however recognize that this is an issue and needs to be addressed to make people more aware of it, however it is not something that blame can be drawn, nor a direct way to fix the issue. It also is a bigger deal because it happens in healthcare. This kind of thing happens all the time in everyday life- if a woman asks someone working at the grocery section of a Wal-Mart which hair product is best, the employee may not know and he/she isn’t intentionally trying to discriminate the customer because she is a woman- they just are not familiar with that specific problem, so they may not see the issue in the same light.

  8. Social determinants play a large role in healthcare. Growing up in Ann Arbor I never really knew about the issues that some places have when it comes to these unconscious biases. I’ve also had problems with doctors ignoring problems with my leg, blaming it on the fact that I was overreacting. It got to the point where I couldn’t walk for over a week. I think the only way to stop these problems is to get people of different genders, races and religions to interact with each other. Once people stop stereotyping other people they can finally accept each others differences and believe the problems that they have.

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