Whether individuals or communities are healthy or not is determined by many factors, including circumstances and environment. Factors such as where one lives, the state of the environment, genetics, income and education levels, and relationships with friends and family all significantly impact health. Determinants of health include:
- the social and economic environment
- the physical environment
- the person’s individual characteristics and behaviours.
Individuals are not always able to control many of the determinants of health and should not be blamed for bad health or credited with good health. Such determinants that cannot be controlled are income and social status. The greater the gap between the richest and poorest people is equivalent to the differences in health. Also, low education levels are linked with poor health, more stress, and lower self-confidence. Having access to safe water and clean air, healthy workplaces, safe houses, communities and roads all contribute to good health as well.
As for employment and working conditions, people in employment are healthier, especially those who have more control over their working conditions. Also, those with access and use of health services that prevent and treat disease influences are healthier than those who do not. And then there is genetics. Inheritance largely affects lifespan, healthiness and the likelihood of developing certain illnesses, as does gender. Gender plays a huge role in the different types of diseases that affect individuals at different ages.
World Health Organization. (n.d.) The Determinants of Health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en/index.html