Week 11: Social Determinants of Health

Week 11: Social Determinants of Health

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.

9 thoughts on “Week 11: Social Determinants of Health

  1. Being a natural born citizen in this country is a great benefit to me in terms of health care. I get access to medical treatments more easily than many immigrants (whether illegal or documented). Many doctors have a tendency to treat foreign patients without urgency or proper care to the severity of an illness or injury. I do not have to attempt to jump through this particular hoop.

    Being a young African American, female, and lower income individual is very rough. I have a lot of things going against me in terms of health care because of the circumstances I was born into. I think the worst with have to be my income level. Should something traumatic happen to me, I will by no means be able to afford the services required to keep me alive. Should I ever be hospitalized and lack consciousness, my family will have to decide whether I live the rest of my life trying to settle a debt or to let me die without the added grief.

  2. As you’ve stated, everyone faces multiple social dimensions that can affect his or her health. Factors such as race, socioeconomic status, living conditions, intentional or unintentional exposure to harmful substances, and level of education affect every one of us in unique mixes.

    I can say that I am fortunate to be born in the United States because my mother decided to immigrate to the United States during her pregnancy, leaving our whole family in Fuzhou, China. My mother’s health was severely weakened by factors such as socioeconomic status and foreign social/environmental conditions. She didn’t understand English and had only one or two distant relatives to depend upon in New York. Even growing up, our family struggled financially as we tried to adapt to the American lifestyle. Social determinants played a pivotal role in the health of my family.

  3. I think you’re totally right when it comes to the race issues in America being a factor of health determinants. Something that could really propel us in a better direction to avoid these racial biases is to engage race issues in the U.S. with a less broad view of White vs. Black. The U.S. is incredibly diverse yet on the surface the only major issues we choose to invest our time in, is that of Black-White relations.
    Expanding the topic and looking at all races and ethnicity might help to close the gap that many minorities are feeling when it comes to things like healthcare. Better healthcare should be given to everyone, but I think even when looking at this issue alone, people are quick to jump to the differences between the healthcare of whites versus that of blacks. To take a step back, look at all the minorities of America, and then to compare them all side by side might be a better way to not only see where improvement can be made, but to give each group their chance to be recognized and have their voice be heard instead of being drowned out by the disparities of blacks compared to whites.

  4. Yes, one’s socio-economic has a great influence over the type of healthcare one receives or wether one receives healthcare or not. I can connect to your examples of how your SES has affected the healthcare decisions you’ve had to make. I ‘ve also had to really think twice before thinking about going to the doctor or dentist because of my SES. However, healthcare decisions may vary from families of the same SES, for I think it really depends how families outweigh the costs of using healthcare services or not.

  5. I agree that the SES of any individual has a great impact on how they view their healthcare. Because of my SES, my family and I have had to treat ourselves using OTC medicine and just rest until the sickness goes away. It could have been something horrifying that was happening to us, but we chose to let the sickness “run its course” because we would be in an even worse financial situation than we already were had we found something bad in our bodies.

  6. I can see how your race can have a positive effect on your health and your SES has a negative effect. I grew up in a family in the upper-middle class my entire life so I have had it off much easier than some. I never had to worry about food on the table or getting a job as soon as possible. This was one huge positive effect on my health due to this social identity. I also seemed to get less sick than some people throughout my life and the money was never a factor in deciding whether or not to go to the emergency room.
    One social identity that had a slight negative effect on my health is my young age. This past summer I somehow caught pneumonia and when I went to the emergency room the Resident physician came in first and ordered a lot of tests including an XRay that would have shown the fluid in my lower left lung. Following his visit, the Attending Physician came in who was an elderly fellow and he cancelled all the tests and played off my description of symptoms as signs of “just a virus”. A couple days later I went to my primary care physician who ordered an xray which showed the pneumonia. The pneumonia would not have progressed as much as it did if I had gotten that xray a few days earlier and the only reason I didn’t was because the attending physician thought I wasn’t knowledgeable enough because I was young. It was one of my worst experiences with an emergency room doctor all due to my social identity as a youth.

  7. I definitely agree that racism has been prevalent in our nation since its founding. Causing not all physicians and health care providers, but most of them to be bias and not treat everyone equal although they may think they are. Often it is not towards every race, but mostly towards the minority groups. This is not a secret, but yet it has not changed. Will ever really change and what are people doing to make sure this change will occur? Race is not the only factor of health determinants, people’s socioeconomic status, living conditions and their level of education comes into play also. Depending on where you are in those categories it could affect you in several ways whether they are positive or negative.

  8. Racism has been prevalent, although, arguably, on the downward trend. Especially now, after Trump took office, we can expect more bias from health care providers. While race plays an important role, socioeconomic status is also a significant factor when considering the type of care one receives. For instance, those that can afford better treatments from higher profile hospitals will undoubtedly receive better care than those that can’t afford the very same commodities.

  9. Coming from a small hometown of predominantly white middle and upper class christians, it wasn’t till more recently that I really realized that race and SES can play a huge role in determining one’s health. Reading case studies concerning this health inequity, coming here to the University of Michigan, and listening to our lecture the Thursday before thanksgiving break all have helped me define more what “white privilege” really is, and also determine that our implicit bias can perpetuate the inequity even when we don’t intend for it to. What I’ve found most concerning in the past few months is the culmination of intolerance and fight back from those who believe we should be able to discriminate against gays and ethnic minorities, even in situations where a person may require immediate care to survive (such as when a person has sustained a life-threatening injury; in some states EMTs are allowed to refuse care to LGBT people). Overall I think fear of change has driven this trend, and the best way to fight back is to educate people more about the facts that show health inequities are real, implicit bias is real, and clear up the difference between “free speech” and “hate crime.”

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