A framework for educating health professionals to address the social determinants of health

Individual Author(s) / Organizational Author
Committee on Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health
Board on Global Health
Institute of Medicine
Health and Medicine Division
National Academies Press
October 2016
Abstract / Description

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines social determinants of health as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life” (WHO, 2016a). These forces and systems include economic policies, development agendas, cultural and social norms, social policies, and political systems. Health inequities, “the unfair and avoidable differences in health between groups of people within countries and between countries” (WHO, 2016b), stem from the social determinants of health and result in stark differences in health and health outcomes. Other terms used to describe such differences reflect the countries in which they are used. In the United States, for example, the term “disparities” is often interpreted as racial or ethnic disparities (HHS, 2016) involving structural racism and other forms of unfair and unjust discrimination that create gaps in health among segments of the population. In the United Kingdom, the term “inequalities” is used to describe differences in health among groups based on socioeconomic conditions (Marmot and Allen, 2014). A consistent message embedded in each definition, regardless of its usage, is that if the underlying causes of disease and ill health are not addressed, the risk of perpetuating a cycle of inequity, disparity, and inequality will remain for generations to come. (author summary) #P4HEwebinarDecember2023

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