The importance of health in daily life cannot be overstated. In our culture, there are people who stay healthy and those who are continuously unhealthy. It’s critical to discover why people aren’t as healthy today as they were a generation ago. The key to being successful in the field is to understand the concepts that define health. Health determinants are the variables that determine one’s health.
There are several health determinants that can be looked at when trying to improve the health of a population. These include:
– Health care
– Social environment
– Physical environment
Each of these health determinants plays a role in how likely someone is to be healthy or unhealthy. For example, someone who does not have access to quality health care is more likely to be unhealthy than someone who does have access. Similarly, someone who lives in a poverty-stricken area with poor sanitation is also more likely to be unhealthy than someone who does not live in such an area.
The goal of public health is to improve the health of a population by addressing the determinants of health. By doing so, it is possible to make a significant impact on the overall health of a community.
Health care: Health care is one of the most important determinants of health. It includes both preventative measures (such as vaccinations) and treatment for illness and injury. Health care can be accessed through the public health care system, private health care providers, or a combination of both.
Education: Education plays a role in health by teaching people about healthy lifestyle choices and empowering them to make informed decisions about their health. Health education is often delivered through schools, but can also be delivered through community-based programs or by health care providers.
Income: Income is a major factor in determining one’s ability to access quality health care and live a healthy lifestyle. Low-income individuals are more likely to experience poor health than those with higher incomes.
Employment: Employment can impact health in a number of ways. For example, job stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Alternatively, employment can provide opportunities for people to lead healthier lifestyles, such as through access to health care and fitness facilities.
Social environment: The social environment includes the relationships people have with family, friends, and others in their community. It can impact health in both positive and negative ways. For example, a supportive social network can provide emotional stability and help people cope with stress, while a lack of social support can lead to isolation and feelings of loneliness, which can negatively impact mental health.
Physical environment: The physical environment includes both the natural environment (such as air quality and water availability) and the built environment (such as housing conditions and workplace safety). The physical environment can impact health in both direct and indirect ways. For example, exposure to air pollution can cause respiratory problems, while poor working conditions can lead to injuries.
Genetics: Genetics play a role in health by determining an individual’s susceptibility to certain diseases and conditions. However, it is important to remember that genetics are only one factor in health and that lifestyle choices (such as diet and exercise) also play a significant role.
It is no longer as simple to address health problems as it was in the past. In the past, people thought that illness could only be treated in a hospital. Medical treatment (Craven & Hirnle, 2009) was the best way to handle such situations in the past. Today, it is clear that there are numerous variables involved in determining one’s health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The concept of health has thus moved from being only the absence of disease to a much more holistic approach that takes into account the overall wellbeing of an individual.
The WHO defines the determinants of health as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These include the social, economic and physical environment, as well as the person’s individual characteristics and behaviours” (World Health Organization, 2014). It is evident that there are a number of factors that affect one’s health. The most important of these are listed below:
– The social environment: This includes factors such as family, friends, peer groups, community and society. The social environment plays a very important role in shaping an individual’s health. For instance, people who have strong social support systems are more likely to be physically and mentally healthy as compared to those who do not have such support systems.
– The economic environment: This includes factors such as income, wealth, employment and education. It is evident that people who have a higher income and education are more likely to be healthier as compared to those who do not have such resources.
– The physical environment: This includes factors such as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the place where we live. It is evident that people who have access to clean air, water and food are more likely to be healthier as compared to those who do not have such resources.
– The person’s individual characteristics and behaviours: This includes factors such as age, gender, genetics and lifestyle choices. It is evident that people who have a healthy lifestyle are more likely to be healthier as compared to those who do not make healthy choices.
It is evident from the above discussion that there are a number of factors that affect one’s health. These factors can be broadly classified into four categories namely, the social environment, the economic environment, the physical environment and the person’s individual characteristics and behaviours. It is important to note that these factors are not static and can change over time. For instance, a person’s income may increase or decrease over time. Similarly, a person’s physical environment may change due to factors such as climate change.
It is important to understand the determinants of health as they play a very important role in shaping an individual’s health. The knowledge of these determinants can help individuals make informed choices that can lead to a healthier life.