How Can Social and Cultural Factors Influence Your Health?
When we think of what determines our health, we often consider hereditary and lifestyle factors as the two sole factors that determine our well-being. Of course, these are important issues that everyone should take into consideration as they may determine the likelihood of developing diseases like cancer or dementia with regards to the hereditary factors, or type II diabetes or smoking-induced lung cancer with regards to the lifestyle choice factors. However, there is a third and equally important criterion we also need to take into consideration, and this is the social and cultural determinants of health. Social and cultural determinants of health include factors such as education level, living conditions, income and social status, and they are often a set of criteria that are overlooked but are now being touted as integral to understanding well-being. Here at Main Line Adult Day Care, we’re going to give you low-down on how social and cultural determinants of health affect people, and what you can do to help better your chances of a healthy, prolonged life!
Statistical analysis shows that people with a higher level of education are much less likely to suffer from health issues than those with a lower standard of education. This pattern is seen all over the world, not just here in the US. This is likely caused by the fact that people who are more highly educated make lifestyle choices that are more likely to prolong their life, for example, choosing not to smoke or to eat healthier foods due to their knowledge of nutrition. However, the stark contrast in this area is slowly diminishing as the internet and the popularity of nutrition awareness has led to fewer people smoking and more people being diet conscious in modern times.
Obviously, education level and income are very closely related, with people of a higher education generally earning more. Having a higher income means the ability to afford better healthcare services and insurance, leading people with higher income to be able to get high-quality healthcare with easier access and therefore vital medical attention much quicker than those who live in relative poverty.
Where you live has a huge impact on your health. This ranges from the conditions of the building you live in, to the local crime rate. Living in a building that is dilapidated and affected by problems such a mold, pest infestations and utility issues (such as poor-quality heating), all take their toll on your health and wellbeing and have been proven to shorten the average life expectancy of those living in these conditions. Outside of the home, neighborhood-related issues such as a high crime rate increases anxiety that over the course of years, will have negative effects on your health by creating a sustained high level of stress.
While most people consider hereditary and lifestyle choice factors the main influencers of health problems, there’s also the much overlooked social and cultural determinants of health that should also be considered! The problem for many people is that a cycle of low income, poor education, and a lack of access to good quality housing make it difficult to control these factors. By understanding that these factors affect your health, you can start making any necessary changes to get yourself on the right track and improve your chances of a healthy and full life!