A person’s health is not only related to his or her physical characteristic, but there are many social factors which can impact health. These include childhood development, education, work status, and income. Dr. Halley Moore, a licensed clinical psychologist, and human resources professional specializes in family interactions in the workplace. She examines these social factors and ranks their importance in influencing a person’s health throughout their lifetime.
Inequities in the conditions of childhood can create problems for years to come. The type of family, a child, is born into will affect their entire life, from childhood through adulthood. Some of the factors that might cause a child to have lower quality health include parental drug or alcohol abuse, poverty, neglect, family violence, and homelessness.
In childhood, a process called “biological embedding” causes early experiences to determine the course of a person’s health throughout their life. The effects of toxic, chronic stress can cause children who have otherwise been raised in good environments to show many harmful effects later in life. These range from depression and anxiety to heart problems.
A parent’s educational level is one of the major social determinants of health. Better-educated parents are more likely to take a child to the doctor and dentist frequently, largely due to better economic circumstances. They are also inclined to focus on the child’s education, increasing a child’s chances of success.
The ability to get and keep a job is a major factor in adult health. People who are not gainfully employed are less likely to receive regular health care. They also tend to have lower self-esteem, leading to possible mental health issues.
Following work status, a person’s income is positively associated with better health throughout a person’s lifetime. Public health professionals are concerned with leveling the playing field for everyone, distributing wealth more evenly among the population.
Type of Employment
The type of job a person holds affects their quality of life. Physical labor is more likely to be dangerous, but sedentary jobs hold the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. People who are in jobs that they enjoy are more likely to be healthy, while a stressful job that the person dislikes is more likely to cause negative health outcomes.
Having access to quality healthcare is a hugely important social factor for health. Income is closely related to receiving quality healthcare, but the poorest people in the United States generally qualify for Medicaid, which is helpful to improve and maintain better health when it seems out of reach.
The choice to forego health care, even for people who have insurance and access, also affects health. If people adhere to their doctors’ recommendations for wellness visits and proper diagnostics, their lives will be longer and more satisfying. It’s important to recognize that there are holistic medicine doctors (ND’s) as well as MD’s which, combined, a person can enjoy the benefits of both Western Medicine and more naturopathic approaches.
Unfortunately, systemic discrimination means that many minority populations will have lower levels of health than their majority peers. Discrimination affects the accessibility of health care as well as the level of care and concern shown by a care provider. Although many laws and regulations are put in place to avoid this, we must remain aware that it still exists, and watch for ways in which we can contribute to non-discriminatory actions and approaches to health and healthcare.
Drug and alcohol abuse, as well as smoking, are strongly correlated with lower levels of health. These issues are considered a “choice” made by the individual, though addiction makes it difficult to stop once they have started. Drugs and alcohol can cause many different health problems, from cardiac disease to lung cancer. Even secondhand smoke causes serious health effects for others living in the smoker’s household.
Dr. Halley Moore has examined the top social factors affecting a person’s health and well-being throughout their lives. With her expertise, she has provided a guide for people who want to impact the health of those around them positively.