May 21,

Social Determinants of Health

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Social Determinants of Health

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Canadian Medical Association


In 1974, the Lalonde Report was published in Canada.  This ground breaking report presented evidence of key factors that determine health status.  The report went on to say that to improve the health of Canadians we need to improve access to the key factors –like income, education, and community supports.  The evidence continues to mount about how these things help make us healthy.  They are called the determinants of health. These are the elements that determine our own health, the health of our loved ones and the health of our community.

The Public Health Agency of Canada lists 12 determinants of health:

1.    Income and Social Status
2.    Social Support Networks
3.    Education and Literacy
4.    Employment/Working Conditions
5.    Social Environments
6.    Physical Environments
7.    Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills
8.    Healthy Child Development
9.    Biology and Genetic Endowment
10.  Health Services
11.  Gender
12.  Culture

The Board of Health for Peterborough Public Health endorses this concept and believes that social conditions influence the health of our community.  Click here for an overview of the Canadian Facts on the social determinants of health.

In recent years, the Chief medical Officer of Health for Ontario, the federal Chief Public Health Officer, and the World Health Organization have all prepared excellent reports which highlight the importance of the social determinants of health and healthy public policy from a provincial, national and global perspective.

Income impacts health

Poverty affects our health – especially for our kids.  Regular income can mean good nutrition and a healthy place to live.  It can help fight disease and early death.  And a regular income helps us feel part of a strong community.

Community promotes health

People who feel lonely and isolated often find they have health problems like stress, pain or illness.  Being part of a community promotes good health and gives us the support we need to cope with life.

Employment determines health

Our health is precious.  And unemployment, or low-paying, stressful jobs can actually bring on illness and injury.  A good job can promote better health, self-esteem and social contacts.  With a good job, we feel we belong.

Education improves health

Education, poverty and health are all closely inter-related.  A community that supports life-long learning regardless of income, language or disability results in better health and a stronger community.

Equity enhances health

Equality and cultural respect enrich our lives in many ways – jobs, housing, even our health.  When we are treated fairly it’s easier to find resources and get support.  Belonging helps us cope with illness, racism and hopelessness.

Environment influences health

Everyone has the right to clean air, clean water and clean earth.  A healthy built environment also  adds to our health and to the community we live in.

To learn more about poverty in Canada, Ontario and Peterborough and about programs which address this and other social determinants of health, click here.



Last modified on Aug 18, 2016