Week 11 – Social Determinants of Health

Week 11 – Social Determinants of Health

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?

13 thoughts on “Week 11 – Social Determinants of Health

  1. I believe that it is possible for social determinants of health to go away only if people are willing to realized they are there. So often people do not want to believe that minorities have a disadvantage in health related topics, and this is where the problem begins. In these situations we often look down upon someone for not having the best health, when the resources are not there for them. Perhaps if we had programs to help those who do not understand their health care, or a program that could help those get the health care they need, we could end the problem. However, this is not how our society typically works, and it will most likely be a long time before this change can happen.

  2. I think social determinants of health will always be present due to the nature of humanity and the inclination toward chaos and disorder in our universe. While we should strive to create and initiate progress in the realm of healthcare, a thorough understanding that certain social determinants may not be reversed due to biological, social, or psychological factors that are coupled with the will of the self.

  3. I agree with Riana. People first need to be made aware of the social determinants of health. I think a lot of people do not even realize social determinants are health are prevalent or exist because they themselves have never experienced health disparities because of race, gender, socioeconomic status, or other determinants. Better education about health disparities and social determinants of health are necessary so that health care providers are more aware of people’s individual circumstances and can provide personalized care plans. It could definitely be years and years before we see change, but it is possible. We as future healthcare providers must be extra aware of these determinants so we can apply our knowledge to our work.

  4. I can completely agree with you when you said that you always thought of the social determinants of health only being present in third world countries. This week my eyes were opened to the different ways that identities can affect health care, even in our own neighborhoods.
    I would love to see these social determinants go away and I think it is a possibility in the future, at least in our society. Our country has become progressively more liberal and our differences in identity have slowly become less “visible”. We need to work toward unifying ourselves and forgetting about these differences in our skin color, gender, culture, or socio-economic status. We are all human and our identities should never determine the level of health care we are provided.

  5. I can relate to your story of a hurt foot; one time I twisted my ankle and my dad told me I would be fine but then 4 months later I went to see a doctor because it still hurt and turns out it was broken.

    Anyways, I am going to play a pessimistic card and say that I do not think we will ever over come social determinants of health care. My main reason for say this is because after our lecture on implicit biases I find it hard to believe that health care providers will be able to look beyond certain stereotypes, despite if it is intended or not. That being said, I think it is vital that we educate our health care providers so that we minimize the degree to which social determinants influence health care. This should be something incorporated into med schools and similar graduate programs because like was said earlier, many people do not realize that social determinants effect countries outside of third world countries.

  6. I completely agree with you when you say that although you were aware there was a problem, it was only after this week that you realized it was so close to home. I never felt like my healthcare was being impacted due to my status as both a woman and as a minority, but I feel as though that is where the problem stems from. People always say that the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem in the first place, and that is something that has yet to happen universally, and especially in our country. After learning about these social determinants of health, I feel that all of us will take special precautions to make sure that our unconscious biases don’t affect our future quality of healthcare; however, many people in the healthcare field aren’t aware of their bias. I think that equality can be achieved through acknowledgement and active efforts to fix the problem.

  7. Your personal anecdote with your fractured ankle is certainly relevant to this issue of social determinants of healthcare in our country, Bhavana. The implications of this issue are deeply rooted into our natural assumptions and behaviors, which in my opinion, make the issue difficult to definitively solve. It is similar to implicit bias in healthcare, but it is more personal; it is not limited to the interactions between a healthcare professional and patient, but the social determinants of our healthcare have to do with our everyday life. Where we live, what we eat, how much money we make, etc.
    Something I found interesting that I learned in discussion this past week is that while Caucasian women have the highest rates of breast cancer development in our country, African-American women still have the higher breast cancer mortality rate. It could be a while till these disparities based on socioeconomic status, race, etc. are mended, but the problem itself should be publicized further.

  8. In response to your question, I think it is impossible to eliminate bias. Although we do our best to try to treat everyone equally, everyone has bias in one way or another. In my psych class this week we watched a video on the implicit bias tests we did for hssp discussion. Even the people who spent their entire lives fighting for equality and social justice take those tests and have bias results. In my mind, the best ways to overcome this bias is to be around all different types of people. Coming from a very white, wealthy area, hssp, and U of M in general, has allowed me to live and learn with a much greater diversity of people. I think it also helps to be aware of our biases. When we know that we unconsciously favor one group over another, we can closely monitor our actions as to not treat them any differently than we would a different group of people.

  9. Good question! I think the best answer would probably that social determinants of health will always be present, because implicit bias will proves difficult to eliminate, and there will always be differences in SES and geographic location between people in ways that can affect health. That’s not to say that we are incapable of mitigating inequities caused by social determinants- for example, tougher CO2 emission regulations on companies could help countless citizens who live near factories with high smog output, and continued fighting for legislation that includes anti-discrimination clauses for disadvantaged communities can help us all reach the same level of care.

  10. I think the question the you posed is a very good one; however, the answer is bit tricky. I think it is tricky because there isn’t a direct answer to this question. Although we may want social determinants to disappear, they will never completely disappear because we live in a society of viewpoints ranging from everything is okay to everything is horrible. It is hard to say that one day everyone will be on the same page. So right now, I don’t think social determinants will completely go way, but we can only hope that they will decrease.

  11. I can strongly relate to this. I too was brought up in an upper-middle class environment, and I never really had to think about the accessibility of healthcare. My parents always made sure my siblings and I were healthy, and when we weren’t, they took us to see a doctor. It always seemed very simple to me. It was not until I started the UC 105 class that I learned about how people’s race, income, or gender could really affect their health care experience, and it was very surprising to me.
    To answer your question, I do not really think that social determinants will ever go away. I do think that as time goes on, we as nation are becoming more accepting, and maybe the effects social determinants will lessen. However, because of the implicit biases we all have and the over all costs of health care, I think that it would be extremely difficult for us to get rid of social determinants completely.

  12. I also agree that social determinants will continue to be abundant within our society. I believe the most prominent social determinant is that of one’s socioeconomic status. As long as there is a class order, there will be a difference in how the wealthier and less fortunate obtain their health care. Naturally, if one has more money, he or she can afford better health care and can afford to make healthier life choices. I believe that their may be less of a difference gap within certain determinants over time but I do not think they will ever go away completely.

  13. I agree it will be a long time for social determinants on health to be totally wiped out due to unconscious biases by healthcare providers. The answer is education for both patients and healthcare providers. Many people in the healthcare field do not know about their unconscious biases, and once they are aware, they will be able to change them. Patients can be aware on how they their own doctors look at them, and change how their doctor visits fold out.

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