Social Determinants of Health, 2E gives an authoritative overview of the social and economic factors which are known to be the most powerful determinants of population health in modern societies. Written by acknowledged experts in each field, it provides accessible summaries of the scientific justification for isolating different aspects of social and economic life as the primary determinants of a population's health.
The new edition takes account of the most recent research and also includes additional chapters on ethnicity and health, sexual behaviors, the elderly, housing and neighborhoods.
Recognition of the power of socioeconomic factors as determinants of health came initially from research on health inequalities. This has led to a view of health as not simply about individual behavior or exposure to risk, but how the socially and economically structured way of life of a population shapes its health. Thus exercise and accidents as as much about a society's transport system as about individual decisions; and the nation's diet involves agriculture, food manufacture, retailing, and personal incomes as much as individual choice. But a major new element in the picture we have developed is the importance of the social, or psycho-social, environment to health. For example, health in the workplace for most employees - certainly for office workers - is less a matter of exposure to physical health hazards as of the social envrionment, of how supportive it is, whether people have control over their work, whether their jobs are secure. A similar picture emerges in other areas ranging from the health importance of the emotional envrionment in early childhood to the need for more socially cohesive communities.
Social Determinants of Health, 2E should be read by those interested in the wellbeing of modern societies. It is a must for public health professionals, for health promotion specialists, and for people working in the many fields of public policy which we now know make such an important contribution to health.
Reviewer:Sanija Bajramovic, MD(Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description:Health is a multidimensional entity. Likewise, there are multiple factors responsible to maintain or disrupt its balance. The editors of this book attempt to deliver research-based information that demonstrates clear relationships between various social conditions and health of community with special reference to European countries. The editors have assembled 12 chapters written by 22 contributors from four countries.
Purpose:The purpose is to offer useful tools for policy makers by summarizing some of the important research findings regarding social factors that are critical for disease prevention and health promotion.
Audience:This book is written for graduate level students and practitioners in public health and public health policy. The contributors are involved in the appropriate field of study. Because of their experience and expertise they can make appropriate recommendations for policy for each kind of social condition they write on to improve community health.
Features:The first chapter begins with an overall introduction to the subject matter. In subsequent chapters contributors address various social conditions including stress, biological condition of the mother, economy, psychological environment, transportation, social support, social cohesion, food, poverty, minorities, and health behaviors (i.e., smoking) and their relationships with the health status of the community. The editors and contributors point out very important issues in public health that have not been discussed in this magnitude before (i.e., smoking rates and the impact of health education). Contributors point out how health education is critical and yet is not effective on its own to reduce the rates of smoking among lower socio-economic groups. Such education needs to be accompanied by policy and environmental changes. Specific policy recommendations are included in most chapter discussions. Some very interesting diagrammatic illustrations have also been included. Overall, a better diagrammatic, graphical, or pictorial presentation could improve the quality of the book. The book ends with an epilogue that points out the WHO's "Health for All" initiative and how policy on social conditions may be a key factor in meeting the goals and objectives of this initiative.
Assessment:Although many other community and public health textbooks and articles have mentioned or touched on this subject matter, personally I have not read any book that has focused just on social determinants of health and their power to improve global health. The editors give legitimate reasons and appropriate tools for policy makers so that they can justify their proposals. The subject matter can also stimulate some thought provoking discussions in the classroom as well as debate among policy makers. This is a significant contribution to the field of public health.