How Social Factors Affect People's Health – Social&Family Issues Example

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"How Social Factors Affect People's Health" is a wonderful example of a paper on social and family issues.   Michael Marmot has served as the chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) commission on social determinants of health. His contribution to public health issues has been evident over the years. One of his main contributions is the description of the social factors that have the capacity to affect health. Notably, Marmot recognized that social factors determined the risk of developing certain diseases as well as life expectancy. He carried out research in an effort to determine the potential effects of the social gradient on people’ s health.

Worth noting is the fact that there were numerous health inequalities along the social gradient (Exworthy & Oliver 2011, p. 74). People who lived under favourable social circumstances exhibited a higher likelihood of having good health and being able to live longer. Society has numerous inequalities which translate to health inequalities. Michael Marmot highlighted that factors contributing to health inequalities were highly complex. However, such factors were attributable to environmental, social, and economic conditions. He named these the social determinants of health.

Understanding Michael Marmot’ s views on the social factors that affect health are of critical importance in developing favourable public health policies (Marmot & Wilkinson 2006, p. 36). This paper will discuss the different social determinants of health. According to Marmot living and working conditions are critical determinants of people’ s health. In his studies of the social gradient, it emerged that people who held top positions in organizations have a higher chance of having good health compared to those in the lower positions. The fact that people in the top positions had the opportunity to exert control over work translated to lower levels of stress (Hardy, Bohan, & Trotter 2013, p.

71). This promoted their chances of enjoying a long life and reduced the risk of non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Notably, Michael Marmot described the existing hierarchies in society in terms of health. People who held the higher ranks in the hierarchy had the privilege of enjoying autonomy, empowerment, and control. These privileges, serve as crucial factors that affect the health of an individual (Kmietowicz 2010, p.

331). On the other hand, people in the lower ranks of the hierarchy exhibited high levels of disempowerment, lack of autonomy, and had minimal control in life. This increased their rates of susceptibility to hard diseases, as well as mental illnesses (Marmot, Allen, & Goldblatt 2010, p. 1256). Other social determinants of health include the availability of water and sanitation facilities. Although this is no longer a factor in the developed world, it remains a critical factor in the developing world (Ritsatakis 2013, p.

98). The poor do not have access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation. This increases their risk of conducting water-borne diseases. Unemployment is an additional social determinant of health (Kmietowicz n. d., p. 45). Michael Marmot established that the working class had a higher likelihood of being healthy compared to the unemployed. This is because different measures come into place in an effort to promote health among the employed (Marmot 2006, p. 2090). They have access to health insurance a factor that does not apply to those unemployed (Marmot & Allen 2014, p.

123). The work environment is a critical determinant of an individual’ s health. People who work in rewarding and favourable working environments enjoy better health than those who have to bear with increased pressure and stress at work (Marmot & Bell 2010, p. 89). Conclusion                       Evidently, social factors contribute to the existing health inequalities in society. According to studies carried out by Michael Marmot, people who hold higher ranks in societal hierarchies defined by high levels of income, favourable living and working conditions, high levels of education, proper housing, and access to health care services are at an advantage of enjoying better health.

On the other hand, the poor who live in compromising situations are unemployed and lack access to basic health care are at a higher risk of developing diseases. People in the lower ranks of the social gradient have limited education and have to bear with poor working conditions. They are at a higher risk of smoking addictions which serve to reduce their life span immensely.    


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Marmot, M, & Bell, R 2010, 'Challenging health inequalities—implications for the workplace', Occupational Medicine, May, Environment Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 January 2015.

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Ritsatakis, A 2013, 'Equity and the social determinants of health in European cities', Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of The New York Academy of Medicine, 90 Suppl 1, pp. 92-104, MEDLINE with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 January 2015.

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