Social Determinants of Health Poverty


The impact of social factors of the quality of health as well as the access to healthcare is quite significant. Social determinants of health defines the environmental conditions within which people are not only born, but also live, work, besides undertaking most of their daily life activities and impact significantly on their health. Poverty is one of the single largest social determinants of health that is experienced in global perspective mostly by the indigenous populations such as the black Americans (Hodgetts & Stolte, 2017). Studies have associated poverty with shorter lives besides poorer health status. The impact of poverty is thus a critical issue that needs apt address owing to the detrimental impacts that it has on the quality of health of affected individuals (Hodgetts & Stolte, 2017). The case scenario presents the situation of Errol who is a black American diabetic 58-year-old man. The subject is also reported to have lost his jobs besides being at risk of getting infected with the Corona virus from his son. It’s only her daughter who is employed but his personal financial status following the loss of job would affect his access to healthcare services alongside the various therapies that are critical to dealing with type with diabetes. He struggles to cope with the dietary regulations that his nurse subjects him to thus deterring his treatment. This essay aims to examine the diverse ways through which poverty as a socioeconomic factor would determine the health of Errol.



Impact of Poverty on Health

Disparities in income are one of the major contributors to health inequality in the United Kingdom. Highest mortalities are reported among the populations with the poorest material standard of living (Hodgetts & Stolte, 2017). Also, the health outcomes of individuals have also been reported to be determined by their occupational social class besides the condition of the areas where they live. Income inequality and higher mortality rates have been identified in most UK based studies. People of low financial classes such as Errol have less access to healthcare services relative to the financially stable individuals. Lack of financial resources is also a major barrier to the access of healthcare services (Hodgetts & Stolte, 2017). Poverty would thus lead to ill heath in Errol and the ill health would also maintain the poverty as he would not be able to as productive as he would have been in different situations. The relationship between poverty as a socioeconomic determinant is that a part of a much larger cycle between ill health and low financial abilities (Hodgetts & Stolte, 2017).

Poverty limits geographical accessibility to health care. Extreme poverty has been linked with the undermining of various aspects of an individual such as their abilities, possibilities and the opportunities that they are able to access as much as health is concerned. Extreme dangers to health are also caused by poverty (Price et al., 2017). For instance, the working environments of poor people such as Errol present more environmental risks for illness and disability. In the presented scenario, Errol is noted to be diabetic. Possibly, this can be associated with the environment that he lives in. he may be lacking the systems that promote physical activities which would help alleviate such conditions such as poverty (Price et al., 2017). Also, it is reported that Errol cannot cope with dietary regulations that are presented to him by his nurse. Most probably, he lacks the funds to finance the lifestyle that is recommended by the nurse. This presents a direct relationship between poverty and poor health outcomes of patients.

There has been a significant link between poverty and illiteracy. For instance, then poor often lack basic knowledge about the activities that can promote their health besides knowing when they would need to access health care (Price te al., 2017). Referring to the scenario, Errol would have observed his diet and lifestyle and would have avoided developing diabetic condition. Probably, he was less educated thus lacked the knowledge on the ways of avoiding obesity and subsequently, diabetes. Over 3.5 billion people globally live in either low-income or low-middle-income conditions (WHO, 2008). Poverty is thus such a widespread socioeconomic problem that is reflected on healthcare. Poverty also influences factors such as food insecurity, suboptimal housing as well as access to healthcare which not only lower the lifespan of an individual but also lead to low quality of life. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the link between poverty and public health has proven to be more apparent. According to WHO, multiple variables influence one's health, including genetic, biochemical, and behavioural influences, as well as societal structures and regulations(WHO, 2008).A single set of elements, such as the formulation and implementation of national and local policies, can have an impact on a wide range of health issues both within and beyond the health system. Improving the health of the population necessitates addressing policies and actions outside of the health sector at the same time as traditional biomedical and public health approaches.

The determinants of health can be broken down into different categories: diet, lifestyle, environment, and genetics, which act as the foundation's four pillars. A support system is required when any of the mainstays of health determinants becomes weak (Berwick, 2020). This is the fifth health determinant, and it involves medical treatment. The environment and social conditions in which individuals live are among the elements that have a significant impact on health. There is a lot of evidence that social disparities, particularly poverty, have an impact on health and well-being inequalities. Because they are exposed to more risk factors, the poor are more likely to become unwell throughout their lives. Social determinants have been linked to the disproportionate development of chronic disorders and the challenges that come with controlling them (Berwick, 2020).

Recommendations and Policies

Literature takes note of the link between low income and type 2 diabetes. For example, Mialon (2020) discovered that living in poverty in the two years before diagnosis increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 24%, a risk that remains the same despite the consideration of weight or physical activity. Studies also report that poverty increases the risk by 26% at any point in time (Mialon, 2020). People who live in poverty have higher likelihood of having the condition. The findings are in line with earlier research that links living situations, to Type 2 diabetes and other diseases. Conventional wisdom about Type 2 diabetes would suggest that once obesity, lack of physical activity, and other lifestyle risk factors are considered, the cases of diabetes evens out between the poor and the financially stable groups (Waver and Vaiser, 2020). While obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and other health problems remain key risk factors, the findings suggest that diabetes specialists should focus more on socioeconomic factors that can lead to the condition (Chien et al., 2017). Low-income people and children, according to the report, are at risk for a variety of ailments, not just diabetes. To begin with, low-income living causes chronic stress, which can have a severe impact on an individual’s health. Poverty also leads to a rise in the levels of stress hormone, cortisol. While cortisol helps the body cope with stress, excessive amounts can cause a range of problems, including high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

Effective address of challenges faced by Type 2 diabetes patients would call for strategies targeted at improving health through condition-specific interventions should include this improved data into the health system. Policies aimed at improving social and economic status should be based on this integrated data in order to gain a better understanding of the link between social determinants and chronic conditions, hopefully leading to systemic changes that reduce the negative consequences of chronic problems. (Harrison and Taren, 2018).Previous Type 2 diabetes interventions have mostly focused on horizontal policies; however, the rapidly rising public health problem of diabetes demands more resources and research into vertical policies. The social determinants of health are influenced significantly by welfare state in high income countries such as the United Kingdom. The policies include public health policies and social policies. The social policies are inclusive of cash transfers, housing and education. These alongside healthcare services are aimed at improving the healthcare of citizens across the UK besides mitigating the side effects of socio-economic inequalities such as poverty.

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Social determinants have been noted to significantly impact on the health of individuals. The essay has discussed the impact of poverty on the access and quality of healthcare by type 2 diabetes patients. The paper has noted that higher mortality rates are associated with poorer communities. Besides, poor health outcomes are also linked to the same population of people. The financial condition of Errol is noted to impact significantly on his health. Policies and recommendations for dealing with the issue have also been discussed in the paper.


Berwick, D. M. (2020). The moral determinants of health. Jama, 324(3), 225-226.

Chien, L. C., Li, X., & Staudt, A. (2017). Physical inactivity displays a mediator role in the association of diabetes and poverty: A spatiotemporal analysis. Geospatial health, 12(2).

Donkin, A., Goldblatt, P., Allen, J., Nathanson, V., & Marmot, M. (2018). Global action on the social determinants of health. BMJ global health, 3(Suppl 1), e000603.

Harrison, C. A., & Taren, D. (2018). How poverty affects diet to shape the microbiota and chronic disease. Nature Reviews Immunology, 18(4), 279-287.

Hills, A. P., Arena, R., Khunti, K., Yajnik, C. S., Jayawardena, R., Henry, C. J., ... & Misra, A. (2018). Epidemiology and determinants of type 2 diabetes in south Asia. The lancet Diabetes & endocrinology, 6(12), 966-978.

Hodgetts, D., & Stolte, O. (2017). Urban poverty and health inequalities: A relational approach. Routledge.

Mialon, M. (2020). An overview of the commercial determinants of health. Globalization and Health, 16(1), 1-7

Price, J. H., Khubchandani, J., & Webb, F. J. (2018). Poverty and health disparities: what can public health professionals do?. Health promotion practice, 19(2), 170-174.

Weaver, L. J., & Kaiser, B. N. (2020). Syndemics theory must take local context seriously: An example of measures for poverty, mental health, and food insecurity. Social Science & Medicine, 113304.

WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, & World Health Organization. (2008). Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health: Commission on Social Determinants of Health final report.

World Health Organization.

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