harvey-socialdeterminants-2006.pdf (123.3 kB)
Social determinants of health - why we continue to ignore them in the search for improved population health outcomes!
journal contributionposted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by P Harvey
There is now unequivocal evidence that the health status of individuals and of whole communities is socially and economically determined, as are many other aspects of our lives. This suggests, as advocates of public health and population health approaches argue, that our efforts in managing our health and wellbeing should focus much more on early intervention and prevention programs than has been the case to date. However, although this ideology of social and economic determinism is generally accepted, practice does not reflect such values. Indeed, as increasing demand at the critical end of health service provision sees us spending more and more of our limited health care resources on acute and chronic illness, less resources are devoted to constructing and maintaining health-creating communities and environments. Paradoxically, while most of our leaders, academics and policy makers have themselves been nurtured in a sound understanding of cause and effect in the world, they are ignoring these fundamental premises in their approaches to the provision and management of health care. This paper explores some of the reasons why this might be the case and draws on key evidence to suggest that the time has come for us to think more ideologically in approaching health care in the future.