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Better Health for Individuals

What influences the health of Individuals?

Leah Roper

on 8 March 2014

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Transcript of Better Health for Individuals

The Determinants of Health
Better Health for Individuals - Focus 2
Challenge Questions
1. Describe the skills required by individuals to resist the negative influence of peer groups.

2. List the negative influences on individual health as a consequence of cultural differences.

3. Analyse the reasons why the government and health authorities need to recognise the importance of social determinants on the health status of an individual.
Health as a Social Construct
Understanding the relationship between the various health determinants highlights the difficulties individuals can face trying to exercise control over their own health. It demonstrates the collaborative role governments and communities need to play in addressing a range of social, cultural and economic factors that impact on people’s health.

Some people hold the view that health is solely an individual’s responsibility, however this individual view of health has limitations in explaining people’s health status and addressing health concerns. Improving health requires more than just teaching and encouraging them to make better health choices.

Biological, social, economic and environmental factors present considerable barriers to an individual’s health and the likelihood of achieving optimal health.

What does health mean to individuals?
What influences the health of individuals?
What strategies help to promote the health of individuals?
Better Health for Individuals

An individual’s health is influenced by a range of factors, which are commonly referred to as the determinants of health. These determinants are the conditions, circumstances and environments in which people are born, live, learn, work and play and they have a large impact on the way a person grows and develops as well as on the choices they make. While each individual has some responsibility for their health behaviours, there is growing recognition that the context of people’s lives can also greatly determine their health. Each determinant is important in its own right but, at the same time, they are interrelated. Often the network of interacting determinants increases or decreases a person’s health status.
Watch "Influences on the Health of Individuals" (Clickview Online) and complete the following:

1. List the four categories of the ‘Determinants of Health’
2. List two organisations that help keep you informed about health choices.
3. List three non-modifiable determinants of health.
4. How can education help to improve your health?
5. List two things that can be modified to improve your health.
6. Outline how an individual’s attitude can influence their health? Give an example.
7. Fill in the missing words from the statement below:

People’s attitudes about .................... .................... .................... and .................... are strongly influenced by family.

8. Provide examples of the positive and negative influences on health.
9. Explain how having a higher income can positively influence your health. Use practical examples.
10. Fill in the missing words from the statement below.

Lower levels of education are linked to lower .................... increased .................... and poorer ....................

11. Outline how living in a remote location can impact on your health.
12. Provide examples of factors that can determine health for each of the following:
Individual factors
Sociocultural factors
Socioeconomic factors
Environmental factors

Interrelationship of Determinants

Social Determinants of Health Video

This video highlights that HEALTH is about much more than access to medical care. It highlights that everyone has different opportunities for health, largely influenced by their social and economic conditions.
Though non-modifiable determinants of health such as age, gender and family history cannot be changed, they act as early warning systems about increased risk of chronic disease, in which an individual has the opportunity to counter the increased risk by acting on modifiable risk factors or determinants.

The actions an individual could take in these circumstances include:
• Self-monitoring
• Screening programs
• Early intervention
• Behaviour modification & developing personal skills
• Education and increased knowledge
• Seeking support from established or new networks
• Medical intervention.

Provide examples to demonstrate how each of the above actions can promote the health of an individual.
What can individuals do to modify the determinants they have little control over?

Individual factors
, eg knowledge and skills, attitudes, genetics
Sociocultural factors
, eg family, peers, media, religion, culture
Socioeconomic factors
, eg employment, education, income
Environmental factors
, eg geographical location, access to health services and technology
Individual Factors

1. Provide specific examples to show how the following individual factors affect health status.

Skills, knowledge and attitudes

2. Identify whether these individual factors are modifiable (able to be changed) or non-modifiable (beyond the individual's control).
Socioeconomic Factors

In 2004, WHO stated that ‘the social conditions in which people live powerfully influence their chances to be healthy. Indeed factors such as poverty, social exclusion and discrimination, poor housing, unhealthy early childhood conditions and low occupational status are important determinants of most diseases, deaths and health inequalities between and within countries’.

A person’s socioeconomic status has a significant influence on the likelihood that they will be exposed to health risk factors.


Watch "Growing Up Poor" (Four Corners).
Discuss the impact of socioeconomic factors (education, employment, income) on the health status of the young people of Claymore in Sydney.
A person’s level of education has a significant impact on their health.
Enables people to have a greater knowledge of health issues and increase their understanding of health protective and risk factors.
Enables people to develop skills that assist them in assisting health information and services when required.
Serves to develop within an individual a sense of empowerment over their lives.
Influences a person’s health as having a high level of literacy and numeracy enhances opportunities for employment, post-schooling opportunities, sense of connectedness and access to support.

Socioeconomic Factors
- education
Individual Factors
- genetics
Genetics outline our potential to achieve a certain level of health. A number of genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, lead to chronic ill health and decreased life expectancy. Other disorders such as down syndrome, which can affect physical development and intellectual functioning, are the result of chromosome abnormalities that occur during pregnancy.
Genetics also play a role in determining a person’s predisposition to certain diseases or health problems. People with fair skin, a genetic trait, are at greater risk of developing skin cancer. Research has identified that diseases such as breast cancer, asthma, heart disease and diabetes have a genetic link, making those with a family history of these diseases more susceptible to developing the diseases themselves.

Our knowledge comes from a variety of sources – parents, siblings, peers, teachers, internet, media.
Knowledge and understanding that we develop about protective and risk health behaviours, products, services and support influence our ability to achieve good health. When we compare the health levels of highly educated people to that of poorly educated people in Australia, poorly educated people are more likely to have chronic illness and perceive their health as fair or poor.

Our attitudes are influenced by our family, peers, education, media, culture and communities we live in. People’s attitude towards certain health behaviours, their willingness to seek help to address health concerns and the value they place on positive health all play a part in determining someone’s health.

Individual Factors
- skills,knowledge and attitudes
Being able to secure satisfying, meaningful and regular employment has a positive influence on health.
Reports indicate that unemployed Australians have mortality rates that are 50% higher than employed Australians.
Employment provides opportunities to be active, socially engaged, interaction and a degree of financial security.
Unemployment has been linked to limited social contact, depression, loss of confidence and disempowerment.
Rates of suicide and attempted suicide are higher for those who are long-term unemployed.
The type of occupation can impact health. Jobs that include heavy labour and high levels of risk taking can lead to increased chances of injury and ill-health.

Socioeconomic Factors
- employment
Those who have higher incomes have more money available to spend on health-related products and services, such as recreational activities, private health care and better quality food. They have the freedom to choose from a greater range of options, which would decrease stress and contribute to a greater sense of control over their lives.
Poverty, increases and individual’s exposure to risk behaviours and is likely to harm their health while also restricting their access to health services and products.
Those who experience financial hardship tend to live in overcrowded conditions in communities with a high population density, fewer transport options, less recreational facilities and less support services.
Low income groups experience restrictions in their opportunity to seek help with health problems.

Socioeconomic Factors
- income
Modifiable health determinants are those determinants that can be changed or controlled so they have a different influence on our health.

Our ability to modify determinants depends on the sense of control or empowerment we feel over our lives. Control over our health increases when we believe we can:
Acquire information
Make choices
Manage situations that might be threatening
Use skills we possess

Non- Modifiable health determinants are those determinants that cannot be changed or altered.
Why do you think these two determinants are non-modifiable?

Following is a list of determinants that can affect an individual’s health. Copy the list into your book and highlight the modifiable determinants.
Family influence
Cultural heritage
Access to health services
Political conditions

Sociocultural Factors
Sociocultural factors relate to the society in which people live and the cultural practices and expectations that exist within these communities.

have a powerful influence on the decisions people make relating to health and the type of behaviours they undertake. Young people can be particularly influenced by the values, attitudes and behaviour of their peers as they seek to establish their identity and feel a sense of belonging.

What are some positive and negative peer influences which may affect the health of young people?
Sociocultural Factors

unit has a significant influence on health and well-being. Foremost, families are responsible for physical needs such as safe housing, food, clothing, medical requirements, love and care. Research shows that a cohesive family unit acts to protect the health of children and helps them cope better when they experience stressors in life (Young Australians: Their Health & Wellbeing 2007). Adversely, children living in situations of violence, abuse or neglect are at risk of immediate physical injury and emotional distress and are likely to suffer adverse consequences to long-term physical, emotional and social well-being.
Families also play a role in encouraging good health behaviours.

What are some examples of positive and negative family influence on the health of young people?

Sociocultural Factors
has a powerful influence through its significant role in disseminating information relating to health. For example, advertisements about skin cancer and domestic violence seek to raise awareness and enhance people’s understanding of health-related issues. It is crucial that any health-related information presented by the media is accurate, fair and balanced, as bias or inaccuracies can lead to misconceptions and confusion that can endanger someone’s health.

Consider the influence of the media on the following.
Values and attitudes
Societal expectations
Health Promotion

Environmental Factors
Environmental factors are those things present in the environment in which people live and work that can affect their health in a positive or negative way.

Clean air, a regular supply of safe drinking water, consumption of properly handled foods can all promote individual and public health, while well-designed communities can assist in creating safe & harmonious communities.

Poor building design, increasing levels of pollution, changes in climatic conditions all contribute to poor health by increasing risk factors and making it difficult to choose healthier options.

Access to quality health services and reliable technology influence a person’s level of health by making it easier to obtain accurate information about health issues and seek treatment & support when necessary.


Using "Application and Inquiry" (pages 38 and 39), explain how the following environmental factors may impact on the health of individuals. Use specific examples.

Geographic location
Access to health services
Access to technology

Explain why not all people have equal opportunities to achieve and maintain optimal levels of health.
Interrelationship of Determinants

Read the article ‘Young People, Dangerous Driving and Car Culture’ in "Application and Inquiry (page 40).

1. Based on the information in the article, analyse the individual, sociocultural, socioeconomic and environmental
factors that contribute to the health status of young people.

2. Suggest positive health strategies that could be implemented to improve the health status of young people who engage in risk-taking behaviour.
The Changing Influence of Determinants
Through Different Life Stages
To understand the true impact of health determinants on health, you need to understand that determinants do not impact health in isolation.

Determinants are interrelated. Statistics show that groups that suffer poorer levels of health often experience a high number of negative health determinants in their life.

For example, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders are most likely to:

Be in the most disadvantaged socioeconomic group
Have poorer levels of educational achievement
Have higher rates of unemployment
Work in lower paid occupations, where they experience less secure employment and lower levels of job satisfaction
Live and work in the most hazardous environments where they are exposed to higher levels of risk
Have greater difficulties accessing appropriate health services, resources and support
Have lower rates of home ownership and live in households and communities that have inadequate housing, are overcrowded, have poorer transport and lower levels of social cohesion
Have a lower sense of control, power and opportunity
Have more risk factors for ill health
such as smoking, alcohol consumption,
obesity and high blood pressure
present in their lives.

Interrelationship of Determinants
Viewing health as a social construct helps explain:
Why certain groups behave in particular ways
Why certain groups do not have the same opportunity to achieve good personal health as others
How behaviour can be associated with social and cultural meanings
What the priorities of certain groups are in terms of health and well-being.

Health researchers seeking a clear understanding of the factors influencing the health behaviours of a person or group often categorise influences as predisposing, enabling or reinforcing factors.

Health as a Social Construct
Using the example of an overweight person:

Predisposing factors
that increase the likelihood of the behaviour might be that a parent is overweight, the family is sedentary rather than active and food choices are poor

Enabling factors
that support the behaviour occurring might include the close availability of fast food outlets, the prevalence of junk food advertising or the shortage of suitable space in the environment for exercising

Reinforcing factors
that help the behaviour to continue might be the absence of suitable role models to encourage healthy eating or exercising, a lack of cooking skills and the general prevalence of obesity in the community


Demonstrate, using the above principles, how teen binge drinking is socially constructed.

Health as a Social Construct
A young child’s health is predominantly influenced by their family.
Parents make health decisions for their children, shape their health related values, choose the school they attend and decide where they live.

When a child becomes an adolescent, the influences on their health
broaden. There is a definite shift of influence from parents to peers. A young person will begin to develop their own values and beliefs in relation to health based on influences of the media, their teachers and their peers, and these may be different to those of their parents.
Discuss how the influence of socioeconomic factors may change during adolescence.

During adulthood, life experiences can affect an individual’s knowledge and skills, which in turn can affect their health behaviours. Adults tend to be less influenced by their peers and the media, and their individual attitudes may have a greater effect on their health.
Discuss how socioeconomic factors may change during adulthood.
How might environmental factors affect the elderly?
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