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How Social Determinants Influence Your Health

Not all health outcomes stem from medical causes. In fact, much of our well-being is greatly influenced by our social environment. Social determinants of health (SDH) are factors outside of the medical field that influence our health. Several studies have concluded that SDH affect about 30-55% of health results. Many of these determinants come from political, cultural and economic forces. These determinants impact a person’s access to healthcare, education and food. Common social determinants of health include:


  • Income
  • Education
  • Unemployment
  • Working conditions
  • Housing
  • Environment
  • Food security
  • Access to affordable healthcare
  • Social inclusion


Depending on your situation, SDH may contribute to positive or negative health outcomes. For example, if you have a steady income and accessible healthcare, your well-being is most likely better than someone who lacks these things. People who live in more developed countries have a life expectancy 19 times higher than those living in underdeveloped nations.


It’s important to address determinants both within and beyond the medical realm. To make sure everyone has a chance to be their healthiest selves, actions must be taken to improve social environments for all. This can include providing good living conditions to those who lack efficient housing. Additionally, even distributions of money, resources and power can help.


There are actions we can take to keep ourselves healthy in spite of social aspects. Try to fit in some time to exercise each day. Staying active is important to your health and can prevent many health conditions. If you have access to a grocery store or nearby farmer’s market, stock up on fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods to maintain a nutritious diet. Remember to stay informed about your own health. Recognize how social determinants of health impact your well-being. Work to find ways to get care when you need it.


If you are looking to create a healthier lifestyle, our Online Health Coach can keep you on track to achieving your wellness goals.