Social Science Module

Social Determinants of Health

“If you can’t see that your own culture has its own set of interests, emotions, and biases, how can you expect to deal successfully with someone else’s culture?”

– Arthur Kleinman


For those seeking a career in health care, it is important to understand the social determinants of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the social determinants of health as: “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” These conditions include such things as “economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems” (World Health Organization, “Social determinants of health”). Together, these conditions play an important role in the distribution of health and illness within and between various population groups.

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