Social determinants of health represent a vast category of factors that inevitably influence individuals’ access to care as well as the quality of services they receive. The factors include socioeconomic status, race and gender, education levels, the physical environment, employment, as well as social support networks (Lundberg, 2020). Thus, individuals who are exposed to unfavorable social determinants of health, such as unemployment, poverty, and low education status, are far less likely to have unrestricted access to healthcare services as opposed to their employed, well-off, and educated counterparts. Moreover, a lower socioeconomic status within the categories means that individuals are more likely to experience discrimination, lack safe housing and transportation, be exposed to poor air and water quality, or have limited access to high-quality, nutritious foods. As a result, the general health of the target population decreases.
Nurses need to acknowledge the barriers that social determinants of health present. Participating in efforts to address the challenges is among the roles of health care providers to work toward the goal of having a healthier population overall. Ranging from community support initiatives to engaging in policymaking for giving populations equal and unrestricted access to affordable healthcare, it is necessary to address the social health determinants on a systemic level. Among crucial resources that individuals of lower socioeconomic status should receive is education on the importance of health practices and self-management, as well as follow-up on existing conditions, which can improve overall health and reduce the risks for chronic disease development. Being an advocate for underserved groups is always a challenge to healthcare workers, but it pays off in the end as their patients become more stable and confident in their health.
Lundberg, O. (2020). Next steps in the development of the social determinants of health approach: The need for a new narrative. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 48(5), 473-479. Web.