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Section 5. Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Development

What are social determinants of community health and development?

___Social determinants of community health and development issues are the social factors that determine and influence the issues.

___The three overarching factors are:

  • Economic inequality
  • Social connectedness
  • Sense of efficacy

___The ways they most often play out are in:

  • Differences in exposure
  • Differences in vulnerability
  • Differences in consequences for different populations

___More specific social determinants can include:

  • Racial and ethnic bias
  • Cultural differences
  • Media influences
  • Politics
  • Living conditions
  • Geography

Why address social determinants of community health and development?

___If you want to solve or prevent a problem for the long term, you have to deal with its root causes.

___If you address the root causes, you’re more likely to successfully address the issue for the short term as well.

___The social factors involved may have more resonance for those affected than the issue itself.

___It may be easier to approach an issue through its underlying social factors than to deal with it directly.

___Addressing the social determinants of community issues is crucial to understanding them fully, so that your strategy and tactics for dealing with them correspond to reality.

___Addressing social determinants presents a tremendous opportunity for learning and community leadership development.

Who should address social determinants of community health and development?

___Those affected by the issues (the targets of change).

___Those who can have an effect on the issues (the agents of change).

___Staff members from organizations that work directly with the target population and/or the issue.

___Respected community leaders and citizens.

___Those who will be asked to change, sacrifice, or take action in order to address the issue.

___Anyone else who has a stake in the issue.

When should you address social determinants of community health and development?

___When it’s clear that simply focusing on the issue isn’t enough.

___When you’re advocating for changes in laws, policies, or funding.

___When you’re seeking fundamental change.

___When you’re seeking a long-term solution to a long-term problem.

___When your focus is on community wellness and prevention.

How do you identify social determinants of community health and development?

___You assess the community.

___You ask people who know.

___You apply critical thinking principles to the issue.

___You ask the right questions.

How do you address social determinants of health and community development?

___You work to address larger social factors through environmental and policy conditions, including:

  • Knowledge and skills
  • Support within and between groups
  • Modification of access to, barriers to, and opportunities for resources and services
  • Consequences of actions
  • Exposure to or protection from hazards
  • Policy change

___You’re guided by these basic principles:

  • People most affected should choose the issues and plan strategies for the work.
  • True change in social determinants demands comprehensive interventions that address multiple and interrelated factors at multiple levels.
  • Collaborative efforts should aim at bringing about change in multiple sectors and systems.
  • Support organizations should build capacity in the community to control its own fate.
  • Health and development efforts should involve collaborative partners as catalysts for change.
  • Strategies should be self-sufficient and sustainable over the long term.
  • Efforts should be aimed at goals that can be accomplished by the people in question with the resources at hand.
  • Successes should be consolidated and maintained, so that new and greater challenges can be taken on.
  • Efforts should continue indefinitely.